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By David Chernicoff
As we look to the future, the concept of what data centers do and what they are tasked to accomplish will continue to evolve. While hyperscale data centers—on the size of Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook—receive the majority of attention, the corporate data center remain steadfast. It’s still chugging along and doing not just the tasks for which it was originally designed, but also supporting IT workloads in new and interesting ways.
There will likely always be those technologies and business processes that an enterprise will want to hold close, and for that reason alone, the data center will continue to remain an important part of enterprise IT. But with that being said, as technology changes, so does the data center, both in use and implementation. In 2019, we are seeing more of the same as well as pointers toward the data center of the future.
1. It’s all about the edge
No longer the centralization of IT workloads, today’s smaller data centers are being built in regional locations to bring services and compute closer to the customer. With this re-location, Internet of Things (IoT) devices collecting data have shorter backhaul and less latency. And as the IoT continues to permeate our lives, collecting massive amounts of data at the edge, data centers will continue to scale out, but not necessarily up.
2. Colocation continues to thrive
Companies are locating resources where they are most needed, while finding little reason to build their own distributed facilities. Investing in colocation means they can put the job of running a data center into the hands of companies that specialize in that. This strategy gives IT back its original business focus: providing a service to the enterprise. From a few racks in a colocation facility, to stand-alone micro data centers and the somewhat trite “data center in a box” concept, the IT team must reconsider the business needs from its data center. And line-of-business (LOB) will be the driving factor behind how the future data center will need to perform.
3. Private clouds make up the bulk of corporate cloud services
Many companies are moving to the cloud, but they still don’t want to give up control. Companies are using data centers to deploy private cloud infrastructures at a growing rate, with more than 28% of cloud spending focused on the private cloud, according to IDC. Products like Azure Stack are being used to deliver cloud services to business users without taking their data out of the corporate-controlled environment. Public cloud infrastructures is being used where necessary, but end users don’t and shouldn’t care where their services are provided from. Data centers continue to host services too important to put into someone else’s hands.
4. Management takes center stage
While the traditional data center network operations center remain important, the overall management structure is changing to allow end-to-end views of data center operations as well as cloud-based services in both public and private clouds. Data center operators must be able to integrate operations into that view so LOB IT can get an accurate view of how applications are running, regardless of location, and ensure that service delivery is on track, regardless of provider. This goes beyond the move into data center infrastructure management tools and looks at the management of business operations. The software-defined data center (SDDC) is becoming the standard model for data center operations, in both legacy and new deployments. That’s because even in legacy environments, the ability to add services on demand is a priority. In the SDDC, technologies such as hyperconvergence, composability, and software-defined networking and storage will continue to grow. Flexibility will be a keyword for data utilization and growth in 2019.
5. Look at HPC in the data center
The increase in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-based applications means HPC availability is critical for businesses looking to maintain a cutting-edge advantage. While prototyping and trials may be done using a public cloud infrastructure, large enterprises likely want complete, end-to-end control as AI and ML applications become a significant business differentiator. This can be most easily provided in a corporate data center.
6. The hybrid cloud
In many ways these three words define the future of the data center. Just about any point that can be made about the future of the data center revolves around the data center being an integral part of the cloud of services offered to business units.
7. Security, damn it!
How many times do we need to say this? Security continues to be a major issue with data centers specifically and IT as a whole. Data centers are addressing many issues around physical security as well as security of their IT workload. In this way, 2019 continues to bring a tightening of security standards and a higher profile for the rapid adoption of leading-edge security techniques, tools, and software across the data center industry.
David Chernicoff is a contributing writing for HPE Enterprise.nxt. From database and software development and testing management to serving as CTO at a network management ISV, Chernicoff brings close to 30 years of IT experience to his writing. After running testing labs for major magazines in the 1990s, he began providing independent consulting services to businesses across the SMB market while continuing to actively write books, magazine articles, and blogs on topics that are diverse as desktop migration and data center energy efficiency optimization.