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CRN Software Defined Data Center Roundtable: Internet of Things, AI Is Reshaping The Data Center Of The Future

"We believe data centers are moving to centers of data. It's not necessarily a physical location anymore," said VMware top executive Frank Rauch.

The Internet of Things revolution is changing the face of the modern data center, opening new avenues of opportunity for partners that follow the data.

Data is spreading everywhere and is no longer bound to a central location, said top industry executives attending the CRN Software Defined Data Center Roundtable. They said the partners that are able to connect the increasing data from Internet of Things devices, then make sense of it in real time to drive business outcomes via software defined solutions will be the big winners.

"We believe data centers are moving to centers of data. It's not necessarily a physical location anymore," said Frank Rauch, vice president of VMware's Americas Partner Organization, during CRN's Software-Defined Data Center roundtable. "When you look at our Hybrid Cloud Extension, it's really about optimizing and making it more affordable to be able to move data from on-premise to off-premise and back again."

With the explosion of data through the rise of edge computing, Internet of Things, and mobile devices, organizations are leveraging more data than ever before to run their businesses, said Veeam Co-CEO and President Peter McKay. The ability to get data in real-time at any location is "changing the game" for companies that are distributed, he said.

"For us, it's about following the data. The data is spread all over the place. It's not in a data center or central spot where people can kind of go and manage – it's all over the place," said McKay. "For us, it's about intelligent data management. Where is the data? What are you using it for? When do you need it? What applications are driving that?"

McKay said solution providers are seeing faster growth and creating a higher-margin business when they follow the data and enable customers to easily access it. "For us, it's really around, 'Where are the partners who want to invest in more of that growth?" he said.

Software-defined data centers are making life easier for both manufactures and partners while also unleashing new big data and analytics opportunities. More software centric, flexible centers are helping with the high costs of bringing data back and forth between data centers and the edge.

Chad Dunn, vice president of product management and marketing for Dell EMC, said he's seeing an "massive" opportunity with software-defined data centers around better leveraging data in the retail market.

"Retail is one of the places where the idea of retail edge and IoT intelligent edge basically comes together first, because you think about how rich content needs to be in the stores and how much data is going to be at the store," said Dunn. "Data locality, it starts to get too expensive to bring that data back to start to gather insights. So the more compute power and flexibility you have with the platforms that are out in those stores, the more value you can create from that data and not have to bring it back into those core data centers."

Vendors are infusing artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into software-defined data centers, which gives partners more value to their customers with the ability to stay on top of the data, according to Paul Miller, vice president of marketing for Converged Data Center Infrastructure for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

"The more you can predict and provide machine learning to what's happening with that data -- predict the growth, predict the outage, predict how you can optimize it -- that is huge," said Miller. "That's all done through software defined constructs which go over all the pieces of not only the infrastructure, but the data sets themselves. [It] provides the end customer with intelligence on how to optimize that, how to prevent outages and how to determine where's the best place to put this data. The more you can do that, it saves cost and it drives efficiency in people, process, and technology."

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