Kevin Leahy is group general manager for the data center business unit at Dimension Data, a $6 billion global ICT services and solutions provider.
The data center is in a period of unprecedented transition – driven, in part, by greater cloud provisioning, increased automation, mobile reliance, rising costs and the constant need to do more with less. As the rapid pace of change continues, full-speed ahead, important data center trends are rising to the fore that will help shape the industry in 2015 and beyond.
Data Center: Both Shrinking and Expanding
No, this isn’t a paradox or mind-bending riddle. Rather, while smaller, enterprise-owned data centers are seeking guidance on how to reduce their footprint, large colocation providers see nothing but growth on the horizon.
What’s impelling enterprise data centers to scale back? The cloud is playing a major role. A year or two ago, companies were debating if they were ready for the cloud. Now, it’s no longer a question of if – it’s about how much they can get out of the cloud. What portions of their environments can they move there? How quickly can they transition workloads? As organizations answer these questions, they’re re-evaluating the amount of physical space they need for their data centers, often reducing footprints by up to 50 percent.
Meanwhile, large data center providers are seeing their growth go unabated. They’ve made substantial investments in the efficient use of power and cooling, so their energy consumption per unit of computing power is much lower than other companies could achieve by themselves, often making colocation a win-win.
New Skill Sets Emerge
Unlocking the business value within technology is becoming more important than the technology itself, as IT leaders face challenges including how to harness social media, whether to use the cloud and for which workloads, how to maximize big data and analytics, and the role of mobility. This shift is driving organizations to hire for an entirely new set of skills within the data center – moving away from individualized domain experts in the stack of the infrastructure to skill sets that focus on automation, API integrations between technologies, the outcomes of user experience and how to integrate the new with the old.
In many cases, organizations are also looking to partner with managed services providers that are well-versed in bundled technologies, how to drive greater levels of automation and integration with legacy infrastructure. This helps organizations look beyond the nitty-gritty of their individual technologies and instead focus on the business outcomes they want to achieve.
Getting More Agile
The cloud and other transformational technologies, along with the concept of consumption-based billing for IT capacity, are allowing all businesses – not just the big players – to be more flexible, creative and effective at solving problems. As these trends create a move away from yesteryear’s waterfall processes and idle-driven systems, companies are seeing that creating small, incremental changes can empower IT leaders to make game-changing decisions, minimize risk and lead to much more stable environments, not to mention more productive and collaborative workforces.
As such, look for IT leaders to continue to embrace agile development in the year ahead, and thus be more responsive to change within the data center. Because developers can test new ideas quickly the data center is better able to drive cost efficiencies and unleash innovation.
Happy New Year!
Many of the above trends are interrelated, and when applied in concert, their positive impact on business grows. As companies seek to keep growth and greater business value a constant – amidst the data center’s rapid evolution – we wish you good luck in the year ahead!
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