The enterprise data model is changing, and so too is the enterprise data center model.
From local infrastructure to distributed cloud architectures and now to self-contained, largely automated micro data centers on the edge, the trend lines are clear: More and more of the enterprise infrastructure is leaving the traditional data facility.
Micro data centers are seen as the logical response to the rise of Big Data and the Internet of Things. Rather than supporting internal or customer-facing workloads, these new entrants to the data ecosystem are intended to support the myriad connected devices that are starting to inhabit the world around us. Indeed, without them, data networks and centralized processing centers, even the hyperscale behemoths in the cloud, will be overwhelmed by waves of ephemeral, largely unstructured data.
One of the first places we will see micro centers is in urban areas, according to Datacenter Dynamics. Cities like New York, home to finance, media and other heavy data users, are expected to be hot growth areas for modular, preconfigured centers that can accommodate a range of environments and provide the kind of high-speed performance that suits everything from mobile communications to DevOps. Planners are already eyeing rooftops, basements and a variety of other locations for centers as small as 8x8, all of which will ensure that data services can be pushed to users quickly and reliably with as little hands-on configuration and management as possible.
Top enterprise vendors are already jumping onto this trend, given that sales of traditional data platforms are expected to remain on the decline for some time. HPE recently rolled out a new micro design that incorporates many of the company’s existing hardware and software products, including its new converged and hyperconverged systems. The key, however, is the integration of the OneView management stack and DCIM solutions from Schneider Electric to enable a fully software-defined data ecosystem that can dynamically adjust to multiple data requirements and provide back-end connectivity to cloud and on-premises enterprise infrastructure for data collection and analysis. (Disclosure: I provide content services to HPE.)
Meanwhile, Vapor IO is out with a new software solution that sits on a patented circular rack architecture that is licensed to various manufacturers. The Vapor Edge platform is intended to support emerging data functions such as autonomous driving, artificial and virtual reality, and high-speed mobile apps that do not lend themselves to centralized data processing. The system is built around the company’s Open Data Center Runtime Environment (OpenDCRE) and features remote monitoring and management, as well as automated command-and-control policy generation to oversee edge-to-device and edge-to-center workflows.
It stands to reason that as the edge pushes closer to increasingly mobile data sources, micro centers will have to become more rugged. Dell is said to be working on a range of boxes capable of sitting along highways, in parks and virtually anywhere else that people or devices may require service. According to the UK Register, designs include a three-rack configuration using the DSS 9000 platform capable of supporting up to 96 compute nodes. The setup is also said to accommodate either free or mechanical cooling.
The micro data center is by no means intended to replace enterprise or even cloud-based infrastructure, but will serve more as an adjunct to legacy facilities to service the unique data needs of the connected world. With users demanding data anytime at any place, the enterprise needs to ensure that it can extend its reach as far into the field as possible.
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 and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.