One way of looking at the digital revolution in healthcare is that it opened the floodgates to previously unimagined amounts of data.
Well, those floodgates aren’t likely to close anytime soon, because another round in the evolution of digital healthcare is already well underway: the Internet of Things (IoT).
As one writer recently summed it up at DataCenterKnowledge, the IoT “is likely to give you far more headaches in terms of volume of data to store, devices to connect with and systems to integrate.”
Put even more succinctly, Jim Davis, former executive vice president and chief marketing officer at analytics provider SAS, now with Informatica, notes, “The Internet of Things means everything will have an IP address.”
What that means is that data will be coming from sensors and microchips placed just about anywhere, and that data will need to be stored, managed and, ideally, analyzed for insights about, in healthcare terms, anything from the specifics of a patient’s health to the environmental conditions in a neighborhood, city or broader geographical region.
The first order of business, however, will have to be figuring out how to store and manage new stockpiles of data. How much data? Well, to take just one source, IDC numbers showed that just 1.5 billion smartphones, tablets, desktops and laptops were sold in 2013 that could connect people to the internet, and that figure is expected to reach 32 billion by 2020.
So, for example, according to Vin Sharma, director of machine learning solutions in the Data Center group at Intel, “the future could well include more distributed data centers, perhaps a network made up of huge centralized hubs as well as much smaller, more localized data centers, or even a completely different infrastructure model. More than likely, some data centers will fade from memory as their value proposition is eroded by cloud-based operations. Others will have to transform themselves in order to survive.”
The good news is that only certain data has lasting value. Most of it will likely be of very temporary interest and will have little long-term value.
“A lot of the data being generated by IoT will be short lived” said Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group. “It will have to be analyzed, summarized and then tossed aside after a period of time.”