Shifting to Industry Standard Hardware
Gartner Group is predicting a 25 percent decline in the UNIX server market over the next four years. This can be attributed primarily to the adoption of virtualization and the impact of innovation from Intel and other players in the X86 market. Collectively, we expect to see the next-generation data center infrastructure dominated by X86-based server hardware-likely based on blade servers. These server farms will be connected to lower-cost, tiered storage by 1G and 10GB Ethernet. Since most applications will be virtualized and thus abstracted from their underlying hardware, there will be an intelligent layer of orchestration software that helps to provision, manage and optimize the use of this hardware.
Adoption of virtualization has given many organizations an opportunity to reexamine Ethernet-based file-level Network Attached Storage (NAS) and block-level Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) as viable options for their application's storage needs. While not as feature-rich as traditional array-based Storage Area Network (SAN) technology, these technologies can offer significant savings both in acquisition cost and ongoing support and operating costs. Further down the road, expect Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to become a dominant transport for servers to access network-based storage, doing so at a significantly reduced cost to today's dominant Fibre Channel technology.
Broad Adoption of the ITIL Framework
There is symbiotic relationship between the virtualization technologies driving the next-generation data center and ITIL. Both are breaking the molds that we have traditionally used to organize our IT build and support teams. IT service delivery and management can no longer be segmented based on the traditional silos of server, storage, network, database and applications. Virtualization blurs these lines from a technology perspective. ITIL demands that we migrate from a functional view to a process perspective.
Since each enables adoption of the other, we see a direct correlation between success with ITIL and success with implementing and operating a virtualized data center. Thus, the data center of the future will have a very tight understanding of the business requirements of the applications they are deploying and supporting, in addition to very well-thought-out and automated provisioning processes and tools to help the IT department quickly react and get the most from its assets.
These four trends-virtualization everywhere, improved power and cooling efficiency, move to industry standard hardware, and broad adoption of the ITIL framework-represent the current ideas that will have the most impact on the data center of the future. Enterprises that are adopting these principles within their current and future private cloud initiatives will enjoy the benefits of a next-generation data center that has higher performance, costs less to deploy and operate, is flexible, easy to manage and orchestrate and, most importantly, is responsive to the IT needs of their business. Better, faster, cheaper -- who doesn't want that?