Tech Trends

The Stay-at-Home Trend and Its Implications for Data Centers

on May 26, 2020

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If you told us last year that the biggest disruptor affecting global businesses in 2020 would stem not from the usual suspects – you know, bleeding-edge technologies like 5G, cloud computing and AI – but from a massive and unprecedented shift toward remote work, we’d have called that prediction a long shot, to say the least.

And we would have been wrong. The outbreak of COVID-19 has completely changed how we live and work, forcing businesses to find ways to make their operations more efficient, including pushing more and more aspects of those operations online. Now, with more offices telecommuting than ever before, the pressure’s on data centers to deliver the performance needed to keep business running as usual.

How exactly has the recent stay-at-home trend underscored the need for fast and efficient data center solutions? Read on to find out.

When “Business As Usual” Is Anything But

We don’t need to remind you that 2020 has been a year unlike any other. To give you a sense of where work-from-home numbers stood before COVID-19, according to the Switzerland-based International Workplace Group’s most recent Global Workplace Survey, as of last year, more than half of global employees were reportedly working outside of their main office for at least 2.5 days a week.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pushed those numbers into another stratosphere. In late March of this year, a Gartner survey of 800 global HR executives found that 88% of responding organizations had encouraged or required employees to work from home to help combat the virus’s spread. That mind-boggling figure is almost certain to decline once the virus has abated, just as organizations’ remote work policies are almost certain to expand in the aftermath of what’s being called “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.

In fact, we’re already witnessing the effects. Another Gartner survey, also from March of this year, revealed that 74% of CFOs and finance leaders plan to move at least 5% of on-site employees to remote positions post-COVID-19, and nearly a quarter plan to make at least 20% of their workforce permanently remote. It won’t be long before more businesses embrace remote working’s inherent cost benefits and shift more employees off-site on a permanent basis.

What Happens When the World Moves Online

Of course, it’s not just businesses that are navigating uncharted waters. From schools to gyms and even religious services, so many aspects of our daily lives are moving, at least in part, online. Online classes have become commonplace, and as more people stay at home, time spent on streaming services has gone through the roof.

When you combine those trends with a nearly five-fold increase in the use of teleconferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack, it’s no surprise that telecommunications providers like Verizon in the U.S. and Vodafone in Europe recently reported huge increases in internet usage – 20% in the U.S., and 50% in some European countries.

Surges in web traffic ultimately place more strain on the data centers that are tasked with juggling a wide range of consumer and enterprise IT applications. The latter can include everything from email and file sharing to big data, AI and productivity applications, as well as customer relationship management (CRM) and content delivery network (CDN) services, and of course, communications and collaboration tools.

When offices begin to work from home, the inevitable spikes in usage of those collaboration and conferencing tools can be especially taxing on data centers that have never seen such heavy demand. This tests these facilities to their limits in terms of capacity and efficiency, causing them to burn through resources faster than ever before, and potentially leading to bottlenecks and service interruptions.

Put simply, the stay-at-home shift is stress-testing the efficiency of data centers on a massive scale. And if these tests are proving anything, it’s that high-performance data infrastructures are an absolute necessity when it comes to connecting people and conducting business in an increasingly remote world.

Could the Answer Be NVMe?

Recently, in an effort to boost efficiency, and to support the ever-expanding range of applications mentioned above, data centers the world over have begun to adopt flash memory as their storage medium of choice. Generally faster and more energy-efficient than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), flash drives can provide data centers with some much-needed stability. The kind of stability that enterprises and consumers need both today and going forward.

As a leading provider of flash memory solutions, Samsung has been paving the way for data centers to deliver the performance necessary to handle a world that’s becoming more data-heavy by the day. Such efficiency is critical for modern data management, and it’s provided by innovations like Samsung’s high-performance 3D vertical NAND (V-NAND) technology and non-volatile memory express (NVMe) storage.

Since long before the outbreak of COVID-19, cloud storage providers around the globe have been turning to NVMe storage to streamline their data centers’ server designs. In the long term, the increases in web traffic and cloud workloads that we’re experiencing now may very well end up accelerating more data centers’ adoption of fast and efficient NVMe solutions.

When you compare NVMe to legacy SSD protocols, it’s hard not to see this efficiency-focused shift as inevitable. Speed and performance are more important than ever, and NVMe opens the door for data to be processed faster, at a lower cost per IOP (input/output per second), and with much lower latency and greater power efficiency. Just how much faster are we talking? While Samsung SATA SSDs’ data transfers top out at 600 MB/s, a high-performance NVMe SSD like Samsung’s 1.9TB 983 DCT can support sequential read/write speeds of up to 3,000/1,900 MB/s. When you factor in the technology’s superior scalability, it’s easy to see why NVMe SSDs could be the answer to data centers’ evolving needs.

In business as in life, we never quite know what the future will hold. What we do know, however, is that efficiency is key when it comes to storage technology, and data centers that prioritize the level of speed and performance that Samsung’s memory innovations deliver will be well equipped to handle both the challenges of tomorrow and the stay-at-home trend that we’re experiencing today.

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