The multitude of revolutionary technologies that has hit the enterprise in the past few years is fueling more and more talk about the next-generation data center. Everything from virtualization and multicore processing to cloud computing and Web 2.0 seems to present a unique opportunity to remake what we do for a living from the ground up.
Industry prognosticators seem to have a clear idea that the next-gen data center needs to be more flexible by providing pools of basic resources like storage and processing, rather than dedicating them to specific applications or users. But exactly how to go about doing that or, more precisely, how to convert today's data center into this shiny vision of the future, is still very much up in the air.
But that's not to say there isn't a wealth of opinions out there.
Analysts at Ireland's Research and Markets offer up its take in the firm's latest report, "IT Strategy and Architecture," in which the company recommends a transition to standards-based integrated systems running composite applications in order to accommodate the service-centric requirements of the future. A layered architecture will not only shield users from technical disruptions, but will lower costs, speed up deployment and integration programs and, best of all, will make good use of legacy applications and infrastructure.
One of the major transitions of the future will be from static to dynamic provisioning, according to DataSynapse's Ivan Casanova. For that, you'll need to build a Dynamic Application Service Management (DASM) platform that encompasses not only a decoupling of applications to underlying resources, but the correct policies and policy management tools to ensure adequate service levels. The ideal system would also constantly measure things like throughput, latency, utilization and a host of other factors.
It will also help to know what kind of users you'll be facing. The next major demographic to hit maturity is the Millennials, those born between 1982 and 2001, according to this report from Genesys. This group is the most communications-savvy in history, and it will likely take a substantial shift toward things like social networking, peer marketing and text and blog services to engage them, both as customers and employees.
There will no doubt be a number of showcase data centers going forward as well, all purporting to provide a window on the future. One of the latest is from Dallas outsourcing firm CompuCom Systems, which has combined virtualization, blades, advanced storage, unified fabric networking and integrated management and automation as a means to enhance services like unified communications and desktop optimization. The facility will also serve as a "think tank" to devise additional infrastructure strategies.
For those of you who have been around a while, all this may sound vaguely familiar. It wasn't too long ago that tapping into the future meant prepping your architecture for this new thing called the Internet. We somehow managed that okay, so there's no reason to suspect that this new future is anything we can't handle.