Everyone has a Holiday Wish List, and data center managers are no different. But while Santa is not likely to cart a 42U rack server around in his sleigh, wishes can sometimes come true if you can make a compelling enough case to the elves in the front office.
Of course, it helps to have a plan when putting in the request for new equipment, which is why many of today’s wish lists are built around strategies, rather than systems.
The General Service Administration (GSA), for example, has come out with a list of requests as part of its Alliance I and Alliance II government contracting programs. The list ranges from autonomic computing and Big Data infrastructure to artificial intelligence and “augmented reality.” In all, it looks like the agency is anxious to place greater reliance on its data infrastructure to drive interactivity and productivity among its workforce, while at the same time taking steps to ensure this more free-wheeling environment can maintain the security that government agencies require.
And since Santa cares about the environment and the corporate bottom line, energy efficiency is likely to be a favorite item under the tree this year. According to a recent survey from data center contracting firm Mortenson, the enterprise is highly interested (84 percent) in the development of renewables and other technologies that produce a leaner, greener data environment. Of course, reliability remains a key factor when it comes to wind, solar and other alternate forms of energy, although Mortenson claims industry performance in this area is steadily improving and investment tools like the power purchase agreement (PPA) help lock down energy costs over lengthy time frames.
Sometimes Santa brings presents you didn’t even know you wanted, and judging by the number of IT-related patents in the hopper, it seems that the data center is still ripe for improvement in a number of key areas. Freshpatents.com, for example, lists dozens of applications within the last month alone, ranging from an XML-based Unix discovery framework to a computer methodology to predict the efficacy of dropped ceiling cooling designs. In between, there are approaches to scaling distributed processing mechanisms and a system for moving containerized data center modules.
Of course, there is still a difference between what you want and what you need. In my youth, I knew one of those presents under the tree each year was new socks and underwear. In the data center, it seems that much of the activity will focus on meeting the numerous data challenges that are bearing down on the enterprise. According to IDC, this will include confronting the power/cooling mismatch between new systems and old facilities, improving IT asset management capabilities, new networking architectures to improve core and edge data flow, and greater incorporation of hosted and cloud solutions.
The holidays are a time of giving, and it can be plausibly argued that the more you give to your data center, the more it will give back in the forms of efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. Santa will no doubt do his part, but it will take a fair amount of planning and foresight from the recipient to ensure all of his gifts are put to good use in the coming year.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.