That Data Center Is A-Changin'

Arthur Cole
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10 Steps to Increasing Data Center Efficiency and Availability

A systematic approach to building data center infrastructure management.

'Tis the season for year-ahead predictions, and the top three IT market analysis firms don't disappoint. To sum up: Things are changing faster than most people realize, and the fallout from cloud computing, virtualization, social networking and mobility will significantly change the enterprise landscape in relatively short order.

First up is IDC, which recently issued a report stating that entrenched interests are starting to show the strain of shifting to the new paradigm, making it highly likely that more than a few of today's giants could go the way of Wang, DEC and other stalwarts of the mainframe era. According to the Chief Analyst Frank Gens, spending on new technologies will reach about 20 percent of the total IT spend, a dramatic shift of the recent past when the vast majority of budgets were devoted to maintaining existing platforms. Already, spending on new technologies is growing six times faster than that of traditional servers and PCs.

Over at Gartner, the word for CIOs is to get ready not only for bigger data loads, but for a dramatically larger sphere of operations. As cloud computing and distributed architectures become increasingly common, IT will be tasked with monitoring and maintaining broader and more disparate architectures, quite often on platforms and infrastructure over which they have limited control. Adaptation to this new environment needs to begin now or you risk being overwhelmed by waves of uncoordinated and unintelligible information.

On the bright side, much of the early hype over the cloud is meeting cold, hard reality, so it's becoming easier to gauge exactly what these new architectures can and cannot do. The most direct evidence of this, according to Forrester's James Staten, is that "cloudwashing" is becoming more obvious. This is the practice of dressing up old technology with new marketing pitches simply by employing liberal use of the word "cloud." The easiest way to spot this is when the system or service in question lacks standardization and automation and fails to deliver economies of scale and dramatic cost reduction.

These are all big-picture predictions looking to plot the major trend lines affecting data architectures. There will no doubt be many micro changes affecting specific tools and technologies throughout the data center.

Over the next couple of posts, I'll hunt some of these down to hopefully provide a fuller picture of where we are today and what the coming year has in store.

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