Racks of servers housed inside the Microsoft data center in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo: Microsoft).

Racks of servers housed inside the Microsoft data center in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo: Microsoft).

Five Ways Next-Gen Data Centers Will Be Different from Today’s

Cloud and virtualization will become the normal for the modern data center as new technologies improve density, efficiency and management. There is clear growth in both virtualization and cloud services all over the world.

In fact, a recent Gartner report says that cloud computing will become the bulk of new IT spending by 2016. “In India, cloud services revenue is projected to have a five-year projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.2 percent from 2012 through 2017 across all segments of the cloud computing market. Segments such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) have even higher projected CAGR growth rates of 34.4 percent and 39.8 percent,” said Ed Anderson, research director at Gartner. “Cloud computing continues to grow at rates much higher than IT spending generally. Growth in cloud services is being driven by new IT computing scenarios being deployed using cloud models, as well as the migration of traditional IT services to cloud service alternatives.”

With so much new cloud data traversing the data center – and the increased number of users utilizing cloud services – what will the next-generation data center resemble? What are some of the efficiencies that administrators can utilize? How will the business evolve around new data center demands?

Let’s look at five ways the next-generation data center will evolve.

  • The software-defined data center (SDDC). Think of this as the logical layer within the data center. Security, storage, networking and even the data center now incorporate the software-defined technologies (SDx) realm. This logical layer allows for even greater control of both physical and virtual resources. Let me give you some specific examples – Storage: Atlantis USX and VMware vSAN. Networking: Cisco NX-OS and VMware NSX. Security: Palo Alto PAN-OS and Juniper Firefly. Data center: VMware SDDC and IO.OS. These are solid platforms which help control many new aspects of cloud computing and the next-generation data center.
  • Multi-layered data center control. The data center is hosting a number of different systems. With that in mind, the control layer must be extremely diversified. This management console now integrates into APIs to span an ever-growing data center footprint. New integrations allow for big data control, data manipulation, and even resource allocation. Here’s a specific example around the latest release of OpenStack, Havana. The networking component (Neutron) allows administrators to do some pretty amazing things with their cloud model. Now, with direct integration with OpenFlow, Neutron allows for greater levels of multi-tenancy and cloud scaling by adopting various software-defined networking technologies into the stack.
  • The data center operating systems (DCOS). The spanning data center needs a spanning control layer. Already, global data center providers are deploying data center operating control layers which manage policies, resources, users, VMs, and much more. Most of all, you’re creating a proactive management infrastructure capable of greater scale. For example, IO and their IO.OS environment helps control many of the absolutely critical components – from chip to chiller. The great part is that this DCOS layer has visibility into every critical aspect that a data center has to present.
  • Infrastructure agnosticism. To be completely honest, the future data center won’t care which hypervisor, storage layer, or server platform you’re running. Layered management tools will be able to pool resources intelligently and present them to workloads. This type of infrastructure and data center agnosticism will allow administrators to scale better and create more powerful cloud platforms. Technologies like BMC begin to explore the concept of agnostic cloud control. By connecting with major control plains and interfacing with solid APIs, the cloud computing concept and everything beneath it can be better abstracted.
  • Data center automation (and robotics). The next-generation data center will revolve around better workflow orchestration and automation services. Resources will be provisioned and de-provisioned dynamically, users will be load-balanced intelligently, and administrators will be able to focus on providing even greater levels of efficiency. Know what else the next-gen data center might have more of? Robotics. Big robotics makers like FANUC are already developing smaller, smarter and much faster robotics. Here’s another interesting example: a recent article discusses how IBM is actually using robotics to plot the temperature patterns in data centers to improve their energy efficiency. Basically, IBM is using robots based on iRobot Create, a customizable version of the Roomba vacuum cleaner, to measure temperature and humidity in data centers.

There’s really no question that data center technologies are quickly progressing. New ways to integrate at the API layer, improved methods of optimization, and overall density are all impacting data center platforms. It doesn’t stop here though. Trends show that more users are utilizing IT consumerization to process even more through the cloud. This means that data centers will have to evolve even more.

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About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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