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Data centre transformation: the next big step

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Modern data centre


During the personal computing boom of the 1980s and the accompanying ‘client-server’ revolution, nobody would have believed that we would one day have dedicated news websites and perhaps even a few user ‘fanzines’ dedicated to data centres and their essential role in the post-millennial computing universe.

But then nobody could have fully predicted the development of the smartphone and tablet PC, nobody could have fully estimated the impact of the then still-emerging world wide web (as we used to quaintly call it) and nobody could have foreseen a new era when service-based delivery of software applications, data processing power, and storage would come to the fore quite to the extent that it has.

An optimization operational fabric

The modern data centre, as we know it today has provided IT leaders with an unparalleled new opportunity to transform their operations inside a more powerfully optimized operational fabric. Technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) have had as profound an impact as containers, microservices and new data abstraction techniques.

Firms now have had the opportunity to lavage data centre efficiencies to optimize, based on a shift from Capital Expenditure (CapEx) heavy processes to new Operational Expenditure (OpEx) based operations. The end result is a more finely tuned nimble business that can shift focus based on an agile IT stack more easily. So what comes next?

The next data centres

Converged solutionsMuch of the attentions on our next generation of data centres will focus on areas including ecological efficiency factors such as Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). Alongside this dynamic, we will also focus on issues relating to governance, compliance and data sovereignty as a changing political world often dictates the where and when of how we build our technology — if not always the why, what and how perhaps.

At a more technical level and looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, data centres will feel the impact of hyperconvergence. As explained here on Forbes, “Hyperconvergence is a software-centric type of IT infrastructure where compute/processing, storage, networking and virtualization resources are all packaged up in commodity hardware box with management tools that we humans like to call a server.”

Hyperconvergence is a perfect example of how advanced abstraction techniques will be implemented in data centre operations to provide enterprise-scale engineering with consumer grade usability and design.

This speaks of a deeper trend overall i.e. we will start to see an increasing amount of non-technical stakeholders get closer to the mechanics of the data centre. Sometimes called ‘citizen developers’, all users will get closer to the heart of the data. At the same time, edge computing and the Internet of Things will start to put data centres closer ‘to the edge’ of where data is created.

Deeper still, time series data will become more important and data provenance issues will start to impact strategic IT planning issues.

Super fine-tuning the future data centre

If we have spent the last decade fine-tuning the data centre, then we will spend the next decade precision-tuning its operations for greater data efficiency, improved cost-performance ratios and deeper control functions which will ultimately be abstracted to more intuitive user dashboards and management consoles.

Data centre managers won’t just be looking to make sure Input/Output (I/O) happens, they will be looking for under-optimized I/O paths, new tolerance and resiliency benchmarks and more adept versioning controls. The data centre of the future looks like a Formula 1 car compared to today’s surprisingly spacious family saloon — as undeniably useful as it is by today’s standards.

Read more on how the future of data centres and converged infrastructure solutions can benefit your business.


Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian is a technology journalist with over two decades of press experience. Primarily, he worked as a news analysis writer dedicated to a software application development ‘beat’; but, in a fluid media world, he is also an analyst, technology evangelist and content consultant. He has spent much of the last ten years also focusing on open source, data analytics and intelligence, cloud computing, mobile devices and data management.

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