Looking Toward Big, Bold and Broad Data Centers

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It looks like 2012 is going to be a very exciting year for data centers and data center operations. Data centers are undergoing tectonic shifts, pressurizing things to a new level: virtualization is shrinking data center footprints but increasing power density and cooling demands; storage is growing out of control, sucking up all the racks evacuated by server virtualization; full uptime operations is pushing new service delivery models; compliance is driving security spending; and these shifts are pushing organizations to outsource, specifically to colocation and cloud. And this is just the tip of the data center iceberg!

Over the course of the coming months I’ll be writing about these shifts and major trends affecting enterpise data center operations, architecture, planning and risk management. Much of this analysis is based on Nemertes IT benchmark research. We’ll dissect each of these shifts and look under the covers to see what’s driving them and discuss strategies to optimize resources, reduce costs and mitigate risk.

For example, we’ll look at what’s driving the storage explosion. Companies are currently experiencing 40% year over year storage growth and I suspect this number will only go up. IT professionals we work with say that since implementing virtualization, virtual machine sprawl drives storage demands. This is a given, and the real question is what organizations can do about this and whether this changes with private cloud. I think not: one of the most significant private cloud challenges data center operations teams face is VM sprawl.

Big Data, Bold Data and Broad Data

When looking into storage growth, we’ll look at the data. Most attention these days is on “big data” (heaps of unstructured data) yet this is just one type of data in the data center. There is also what I call the bold data, or the stuff that runs the business. This is where ERP, CRM, MRP and even email data live. Much of this becomes big data in addition to also growing in its relational database form, doubling storage growth. And, there is a third type of data that is not getting enough attention, but should. I call this broad data. Broad data is the data not traditionally considered IT data. This includes all the data from sensors, HVAC systems, building control systems, etc.; all data IT must now manage to support all of the non-IT devices in the company.

At Nemertes, we characterize the growth of broad data as a consequence of a much broader shift from Information Technology (IT) to Enterprise Technology (ET.) Over the coming years this shift will have an increasing affect on data center operations and it’s a trend to follow and analyze, closely.

And, of course it’s impossible to talk about data centers without talking about data center networking. It’s becoming a veritable fabric store with every major switch vendor delivering on a new data center fabric. We’ll look at the reality of data center switching, the drivers behind it and the differences between various technologies such as NVGRE vs. VXLAN and TRILL versus SPB or DCE or DCB, etc. We’ll talk about migration and risk management strategies that make sense and we’ll separate vendor hype from reality.

There is much to talk about with data centers and I very much look forward to lots of feedback and discussion.

Ted Ritter is a contributing editor for Data Center Knowledge. He is a Principal Research Analyst with Nemertes Research.

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