When the government makes legislative changes, it has a big knock on effect for business. However, while the initial impact can be tough it is not always the end of the story, often these changes are just the first step and more updates follow. The difficult task facing business leaders is how to adhere to new laws but also protect themselves against future amendments to these laws.
Take the UK’s IP Bill for instance; the British government can now legally demand to see at least a year’s worth of customer communications data, including customers’ surfing habits, from any company which stores that kind of information. In real terms, this will mean companies will have to implement new protocols, processes, programmes and software to comply with this increase in storage demands. However, where there are software updates are required; hardware will inevitably need to be implemented to support these changes - and this all costs money.
But what if one year’s worth of data becomes two years or five years? It is important that businesses are able to upscale their infrastructure to comply with current laws, but what would the cost be if additional adaptations to be made, should new governmental laws come into play later down the line as was the case with the National Living Wage.
For businesses, reacting to this change in the law will most likely mean scaling up data center storage to allow for the capacity needed to collect this level of data. This is no small task and getting it right the first time, in a way that provides flexibility for future changes in demand, will be paramount in keeping costs down in the future as well as reducing the risk of failure in the present.
The key to successfully implementing all the necessary changes is to predict the impact of any potential alterations before they are made. This will ensure that capacity can be managed and maximised without elevating failure risks. If there is need for further investment in new hardware at this stage you will also have the opportunity to consider whether this is the most economic approach, or if the risk that the legislation could change again means a different strategy would be more appropriate.
Central to the success of predicting future changes, is the use of engineering simulation technology to test scenarios so that any data center manager is able to accurately predict what effect additional software and hardware changes will have on the performance of the current data center and decide whether it would be more cost effective to retrofit the existing setup, start fresh or outsource.
Simulation will also allow data center owner-operators to reclaim unused capacity and fully understand the risks this might bring - testing any potential changes to the data center in a safe, offline environment before actioning in a live facility. This means data center managers might be able to generate the extra capacity that the IP Act will demand, whilst also testing what affect future governmental demands on storage capacity could have on the existing data center and where the gaps are, should demand increase.
As the world becomes increasingly digital and the levels of data capture continues on its exponential growth trajectory, the regulations to protect individuals will have to be amended accordingly. Therefore, it’s important businesses ensure their data centers can accommodate for these changes and predict for future demands - removing some of the uncertainty that can be so damaging and costly for business.
Jon Leppard is director at Future Facilities, a British company that develops engineering simulation tools.