10 Data Center Predictions For 201310:00 AM EST Mon. Jan. 07, 2013
While traditional data center issues related to driving power and cooling efficiency will remain important in 2013, technologies that drive data center performance will generate the most buzz this year.
New flash storage, server and management technologies will have the chance to prove themselves in the data center at the same time administrators wrestle with new threats and constraints to operations, including the BYOD (bring your own device) wave, the need for more and ever more bandwidth, and that ever-present cloud.
These issues and more will be hot topics of discussion for solution providers and their customers in 2013. Turn the page and get the conversations started. ...
Data centers will face a push by corporate decision-makers to beef up their systems to handle the rush of users who want to bring their own mobile devices to work.
That BYOD (bring your own device) push is here. Gartner in December reported that 70 percent of respondents in a recent survey have or are planning to have BYOD policies within the next 12 months, and that one-third of businesses surveyed already have BYOD policies in place for mobile devices like smartphones and tablet PCs.
As a result, data centers in 2013 will implement security policies and technologies to protect corporate data and infrastructures while allowing access by authorized users that have their own mobile devices. They also will implement technologies to make sure as little corporate data as possible is stored on mobile devices, and that the data stored on those devices is protected and backed up.
Data center IT infrastructures are getting efficiency boosts from new server and storage technologies that will enable them to provide new services at lower costs and with higher performance.
Among these technologies are flash-based storage, including SSDs and flash cache appliances or PCIe cards which, when used with flash-aware applications, can provide a significant boost in storage performance at a relatively small cost. Another is system-on-chip (SOC) technology from companies like Intel, AMD and ARM-compatible vendors that allow servers to run at a fraction of the power consumption of traditional servers.
Those technologies got their introductions in 2012 or earlier. For 2013, the race will be on to adopt them in data centers to bring the efficiencies to customers as quickly as possible.
The growth in the number of data centers combined with burgeoning demand for services from new and existing data centers will push data center owners to invest heavily in bandwidth in 2013.
Networking vendor Emulex in September released results of a survey, which found that 54 percent of IT administrators expect their data center networks will have deployed 100-Gbit Ethernet by 2016, and that 81 percent called the growing demand for bandwidth one of the most critical issues for data centers.
The need for ever more bandwidth will soar in 2013 and beyond with increased demand for a wide range of cloud-based services, including big data, backups, disaster recovery, streaming and more. And expect falling bandwidth prices to provide incentive to upgrade.
Consolidation of corporate data centers could mean big business for the channel in 2013 thanks to several factors, including mergers and acquisitions, which often results in redundant IT systems and data centers, and the use of technologies including virtualization, deduplication, thin provisioning, the cloud, and other ways to cut back on the amount of hardware required.
And while the consolidation goes on, many of those involved will see this as an opportunity to kick the tires of services offered by multitenant data centers.
A boom in managed services and collocation services from businesses tired of managing any IT assets not directly tied to their primary mission will spur the building of new stand-alone, multitenant data centers in 2013.
While these won't necessarily all be big data centers, most will be thanks to the economies of scale that larger spaces offer.
For solution providers, that means not only opportunities to participate in the design and building of data centers, but also in reselling a wider range of services that help customers gain advantage from moving part, if not all, of their operations to third-party data centers.
Many of the key design elements of data centers recently opened or in the process of building by such large services providers as Amazon, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft will filter into nearly every new data center project starting in 2013, especially stand-alone data centers for multitenant use.
Such design elements include natural cooling, which replaces air conditioning with outside air to cut cooling costs, new ways to funnel hot and cold air without the need for expensive raised flooring, and replacing most, if not all, branded servers and storage equipment with low-cost custom-built hardware, some of which isn't even enclosed in a chassis.
That latter item, the nonproprietary hardware, could also be of interest to solution providers looking to provide low-cost hardware options to customers expanding their corporate data centers.
Expect to see modular data centers more often in 2013 as the center of both new data center construction and existing data center expansion.
Modular data centers, in which the IT equipment and often part or all of the power and cooling infrastructure of a full data center are built into something that looks like a steel shipping container, can be configured by the vendor and then trucked to the required location whether it's in a traditional data center, a big empty building, the roof of a building or on-site after a disaster.
By going modular, data center operators can take advantage of local natural cooling, locations with lowest electricity costs, or close proximity to specific customer requirements, all without the need to do the integration on-site.
Solution providers with both services and hardware expertise in 2013 will be building new data centers or expanding their older facilities in order to control the back end of their services business.
Turnkey solutions from managed service providers make it possible for nearly anyone with the right hardware to provide services from their own data center at little cost, and effectively compete with the big boys like Amazon or Google.
However, there is a risk involved as the large providers, who can order servers and storage devices by the container load, have a distinct price advantage. But solution providers can offer full packages of services custom-tailored to customer requirements, and with the right solutions will not necessarily be at a cost disadvantage.
Software is key to improving data center efficiency, and DCIM (data center infrastructure management) software is the in-word for 2013.
DCIM can manage all aspects of data center hardware, cooling and power in as comprehensive or as simple a manner as needed. That is important, as full-blown DCIM is a massive undertaking for anybody save a handful of experienced solution providers. However, less complicated DCIM software coming to market gives solution providers a leg up in developing a data center management practice.
The other buzzword for 2013 will be SDDC, or software-defined data center. With virtualization of storage and server resources a mature field, and with virtualization of networking resources via OpenStack and other less open efforts, the buzz is shifting toward virtualizing all data center resources to increase flexibility. Alas, despite all the talk about SDDC in vendors' marketing materials in 2013, true SDDC is still years away.
While most, if not all, stand-alone, multitenant data centers provide some form of cloud services as a large part of their business, 2013 will see data centers themselves become much more active users of cloud services.
Customers will expect their data center partners to take advantage of the cloud for things like disaster recovery and business continuity. The industry will also see data centers partnering with their peers and their competitors to use the cloud as a way to increase communications, provide backup resources and even take over for each other in an emergency.