Data Center Design for a Mobile Environment

This is the sixth and final article in a series on DCK Executive Guide to Data Center Designs.

The trend toward the mobile user continues at an accelerating pace and trends indicate that the mobile applications and hardware (smartphones and tablets and even vehicle-based systems) will exceed the PC based information client. This transformation cuts across many divergent business types from social media and search to streaming entertainment media and even basic financial retail banking, such as using a smartphone to take a picture of a check to deposit it. While on the surface this would not appear to impact the design of the physical data center facility, long term it may well influence the some IT architecture and hardware that resides in the data center. In fact, it is foreseeable that as wireless devices and networks will require and carry more data than existing land based networks and data centers may directly or indirectly need to integrate into the wireless network infrastructure. This may change the design landscape for data centers which may be designed to primarily deliver services to mobile clients.

The Bottom Line
As a senior management executive it is your ultimate responsibility to look down the road and set the course for your organization’s business direction and how it will shape the IT architectural roadmap. In addition to predicting the future, you also need to see around the next corner to foresee the fork in the road or avoid the cliff at the end of a wrong turn. In the information systems world, every year (or sometime every month) seems to bring the “The Next Big Thing”. And while previously most of those trends did not really have much impact on the physical design of data center itself, over the past few years even that has no longer been a certainty.

We are still at the dawn of the 21st century and one only needs to look at the technological developments that have occurred since 2000. The rate of change for information technology is accelerating, it is has become totally interwoven with nearly every aspect of daily life. What is commonplace in daily life today was barely imagined in the science fiction stories of the earlier part of last century. The IT hardware built only 5 years ago may still be operational, but in most cases is considered as functionally or technically obsolete, as are many data centers that were built only 10 years ago but were designed based on historic IT requirements.

It may seem easier to simply build on last year’s data center designs and avoid looking too far down the road. Nonetheless, today’s data center needs to be designed for the future, not the past. Do not let the fear of endless “scope or feature creep” limit your consideration of being open to new design options. Yes, you will still need to draw a line somewhere, whether for budget or time constraints, but to not close your own mind or the limit the design team’s options to new ideas without first understanding their advantages (as well as potential pitfalls). Expansion and flexibility must be pre-designed in, not tacked or retrofitted on afterward as requirements change. The entire scale and scope of the demands and the delivery platforms have changed rapidly, and in some cases radical paradigm shifts in designs have occurred.

The physical infrastructure still needs to be reliable and solidly built, since it is the critical underlying foundation necessary to the security and availability of the IT system it contains. However, in today’s socially conscious world, long term sustainability is no longer an option; environmental stewardship is now a requirement when planning any new project. Expect environmental sustainability issues to grow in importance in the immediate and foreseeable future.

And so in closing, we hope that this Executive Series has provided you with the insight and strategies to help guide you to ask the right questions to challenge and provoke yourself, as well as your IT architects and data center designers and ultimately enable you and them to make more informed decisions about what needs to be considered in the design of your next data center.

The complete Data Center Knowledge Executive Guide on Data Center Design is available in PDF complements of Digital Realty. Click here to download.

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