Uptime: Flash Storage is Top Data Center Disruptor

Andy Lawrence, who leads the data center technologies and the Eco-Efficient IT research practices at 451 Research, mentioned the chief claims of modular vendors as speed of deployment, lower costs, better reliability and efficiencies.

Andy Lawrence, the VP Research for Datacenter Technologies at 451 Research, presented ratings on which new technologies will create the most disruption in the data center industry at the Uptime Symposium.

Which new technologies will genuinely gain traction in the data center industry? At this week’s Uptime Symnposium 2013, analyst Andy Lawrence provided The 451 Group’s take on disruptive tech, using a grading system to separate marketing hype from real-world adoption.

The winners? Lawrence sees Flash storage as the leading disruptive force, followed by cloud-level resiliency, “advanced” data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and prefabricated modular data centers. The technology we’re least likely to see? Onsite clean power generation, which trailed the pack by a considerable margin.

The 451 Group’s “Disruptive Rating” system includes feedback from 17 analysts from 451 and the Uptime Institute, who assessed new technologies using three criteria: how big the impact will be, how fast it will happen, and how likely it is to happen. The ratings used a 1 to 5 scale, which 5 equating to “prepare for competitive, disruptive change now.”

Here’s a summary of the findings, presented Tuesday by Lawrence, the VP Research, Datacenter Technologies at 451 Research:

  • Flash storage: The use of fast, low-energy. non-volatile solid state memory is the most disruptive data center technology out there, according the the 451 Research team. It provides performance gains and uses less space and power than existing storage technologies. The drawbacks: Flash is expensive and unsuited for lower tier long-term storage. It earned a Disruption Rating of 4.11, the only entry to score above the 4.0 benchmark, which translates to “some impact likely soon.” 
  • Cloud-level resiliency: This strategy weighed in at 3.79 on the Disrupt-O-Meter. Managing redundancy with software and shifting data across wide area networks wins points for its ability to reduce investment in a facility’s infrastructure plant, significantly lowering capital expenses while improving reliability.  
  • Advanced DCIM:  Keeping in mind that not all “DCIM” is created equal, 451 Research sees “advanced” DCIM that ties IT service management to data center infrastructure as having serious disruptive potential, with a score of 3.72. Although the technology is expensive and mostly unproven for high availability scenarios, many data center operators are yearning for worthy DCIM tools that can provide effective capacity planning.
  • Prefabricated Modular Data Centers: This was a major focus of last year’s Symposium, and Uptime/451 sees it gaining further traction. Benefits include rapid deployment, reliable designs and reduced costs. But modular designs aren’t right for many requirements, and the economic gains can suffer at scale. 

Then there’s onsite clean power generation, like Apple’s massive solar array and slew of landfill-powered Bloom boxes. The 451 Group analysts say deploying on-site green power is in the “con” column on two key decision drivers for data centers: high cost and unproven reliability. Onsite clean power scored just 2.62 on the Disrupt-O-Meter.

Technologies falling between 3.3 and 3.6 included silicon photonics, chiller-free data centers, power-proportional computing and memristors.

You can follow all the action from The Uptime Symposium on Twitter with the hashtag #Uptime13.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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