Looking Ahead: Data Centers of 2018 and Beyond

The continued growth of the IoT, the rising volume of digital traffic, and the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications are key technology trends that are shaping the landscape of data centers.

Russell Senesac works in Data Center Business Development for Schneider Electric.

The driverless economy, augmented and virtual reality, new methods of driving customer-centric engagement, and the overall business mandate toward digital transformation has placed a tremendous burden on IT organizations and their systems and data centers. Demands for data are growing exponentially, making IT environments even more critical, hybrid and distributed than ever before. As a result, data management itself has become increasingly complex as operators now support a multitude of deployment sites – from on-premises and cloud to colocation and edge applications.

Although the variety of new trends impacting the data center market has been broad, arguably the most impactful has been the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT has created a more connected world than ever before, and has vastly increased the volume of machine data. The continued growth of the IoT, the rising volume of digital traffic, and the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications are key technology trends that are shaping the landscape of data centers.

A New Generation

Data centers have become increasingly distributed, and the data management requirements more complex; coupled with reduced budgets and fewer staff, this can create a perfect storm of management challenges. In fact, 59 percent of IT budgets are unchanged, and 16 percent are decreasing, according to Gartner. What’s more, hybrid environments mean that IT teams no longer have the holistic view they once had with a single on-premises data center. Frustrations include decreased visibility to assets, inability to compare performance, and timely or costly deployment.

In earlier generations, data centers were entirely on-premises. Many data center managers leveraged traditional data center infrastructure management (DCIM) to gain an understanding and provide analyses of IT ecosystems’ health. DCIM has played a hugely positive role in bringing much-needed improvements to the way data centers are being managed in the digital age- from optimizing facilities, and implementing customer feedback - DCIM is extremely valuable. However, with a more distributed ecosystem, standard DCIM would need to be deployed in each individual data center site used by an organization, rendering it too costly, timely and inefficient. 

According to a recent 451 Research survey of decision-makers responsible for colocation, 77 percent of their data centers were enterprise, 15 percent were colocation, wholesale and hosting, and eight percent was cloud. Operators are turning to an advanced version of DCIM, a cloud-first management strategy known as data center management-as-a-service (DMaaS) to provide a simpler, more streamlined deployment, and increased visibility to decentralized data.

What is DMaaS?  

IT departments of every size and every industry have quickly come to the realization that AI, the IoT, and hybrid cloud is the most complex – and realistic – trio of the future. The only way for these technologies to coexist is within a hybrid multi-cloud platform. Data from IoT devices must be quickly analyzed and processed further, while AI is focused on manipulating this processed data to make real-time, time-sensitive decisions. They are symbiotic, but require delivery that can balance the speed and performance needed for fast and critical decision making.

Cloud-based DCIM, or DMaaS, is a recent introduction to data center monitoring services, initially created in response to the proliferation of edge data centers and the requirement for always-on connectivity. DMaaS provides around-the-clock remote data center monitoring with immediate access and visibility into diverse, multi-location IT environments. While newer to the market, this technology has been adopted quickly as its open IoT approach provides a holistic view across the entire hybrid ecosystem.

Data Centers of the Future

DMaaS is quick to deploy, low cost (starting at free) and can be achieved with no more than a software download and smartphone application. With a few clicks, IT professionals can remotely monitor their data center and derive real-time insights into its health and performance. While DCIM faced barriers in multi-location deployments, DMaaS is the opposite.

With DMaaS listening and learning from connected devices, the system is able to provide better management information and insights to the data center manager. This enables maximized protection of critical equipment through smart alarming and remote troubleshooting. At the same time, DMaaS is able to help improve availability and efficiency and offer foresight into potential risks by leveraging global benchmarks and analysis. DMaaS can alert to issues, offer predictions, eliminate downtime and offer real-time insights. The wealth of knowledge that will now be available will help data center managers identify how to best manage their hybrid environment moving forward.

While DCIM is still an excellent option – particularly for on-premises data centers – a cloud based innovation like DMaaS provides for a simpler and more streamlined deployment for a distributed environment.  With considerations towards IT budget constraints, rapidly changing technology, and enterprise data centers shifting towards a hybrid model, a cloud-based, streamlined approach of DMaaS makes sense for data center managers and the future of data. 

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating.

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