Top Five Data Center and Cloud Considerations for 2016

Here are the biggest trends and considerations going into 2016 around cloud, your data center, and new IT strategies

Bill Kleyman

January 20, 2016

7 Min Read
Top Five Data Center and Cloud Considerations for 2016
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Welcome to 2016 – the year of our digital [r]evolution.

The next few years will be defining moments for the modern data center and the entire cloud ecosystem. We’re beginning to see more markets, industries, and verticals adopting next-generation technologies. All of this impacts the way we design data centers and all of the resource supporting our diverse applications and users.

We’ve reached a point where almost every person has a digital footprint. We can create a digital identifier with critical pieces of information for babies who don’t even have a heartbeat yet. Our data is in the cloud before we're even born. That’s something we must all become accustomed to.

Today, new market disruptors are pushing organizations to rethink their entire business strategies and find ways to intelligently align their IT environments. With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the top five trends that will be impacting your data center and cloud environments in 2016.

  • The Internet of Things. An explosion of interconnected devices will hit the industry. This will range from cars and appliances to consumer electronics. We’ll see homes, buildings, and even entire cities light up as a part of the cloud and internet ecosystem. Healthcare is using more “smart” devices, which help monitor patients and provide real-time health services options. Cisco recently reported that globally, the data created by Internet of Everything (Cisco's name for the Internet of Things) devices will reach 507.5 ZB per year (42.3 ZB per month) by 2019, up from 134.5 ZB per year (11.2 ZB per month) in 2014. Data created by IoE devices will be 269 times higher than the amount of data being transmitted to data centers from end-user devices and 49 times higher than total data center traffic by 2019. Regardless of the vertical you’re in, IoE may very well be impacting your business in the very near future.

  • SDN will be huge. Having realized the very real benefits behind server virtualization, the network is next. One of the biggest challenges around today’s networking ecosystem is the complexity and distribution of resources. Organizations are having problems managing policies, controlling administrative privileges, and resource allocation. This challenge continues to grow as more devices and more data is passed through the data center. Gartner recently pointed out that by the end of 2016, more than 10,000 enterprises worldwide will have deployed SDN in their networks, a tenfold increase from 2014. According to a new forecast from IDC, the worldwide SDN market for enterprise and cloud service provider segments will grow from $960 million in 2014 to over $8 billion by 2018, representing a robust CAGR of 89.4 percent.

"SDN is taking center stage among innovative approaches to some of the networking challenges brought about by the rise of the 3rd Platform, particularly virtualization and cloud computing," said Rohit Mehra, VP, network infrastructure, at IDC. "With SDN's growing traction in the data center for cloud deployments, enterprise IT is beginning to see the value in potentially extending SDN to the WAN and into the campus to meet the demand for more agile approaches to network architecture, provisioning, and operations."

Today, working with SDN is actually easier than it was before. You have options around commodity technologies, hypervisor-integrated SDN, and even SDN at the hardware layer. Specifically, you can now tie in SDN and network functions virtualization directly into the services that need them. Just make sure to know and understand the differences between the two. Know that data centers are already looking at and adopting SDN and NFV technologies. The latest AFCOM State of the Data Center Survey reports that between now and 2016, 83 percent of survey respondents said that they’ll be implementing, or have already deployed SDN or some kind of NFV. Be ready for a much more agile and virtualized network.

  • Next-generation advanced persistent threats (APTs) will continue to evolve. There is a very real economization and industrialization around the entire hacking community. There are now nation states, lone individuals, and entire teams working to access your valuable information. Security moving forward will no longer have a silver bullet. With next-gen APTs, you’re working with physical, logical, and even human threats around your data center. Hackers are taking aim at very specific weaknesses and various services which they try to exploit. Juniper Research recently pointed out that the rapid digitization of consumers’ lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, increasing to almost four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015. There have even been instances where big network and security vendors had their own holes in the system to deal with. Moving forward, organizations will need to examine the entire attack continuum and ensure that they have intelligent security services spanning their entire data center and cloud.

New types of cloud-ready security technologies help encrypt and secure new types of traffic points between the data center and cloud ecosystems. Know that your data may very well be a target. With that in mind, create a security architecture which can lock down specific data points and be able to integrate with various technologies within your data center. Most of all, your network will become a critical part of the security equation.

  • Automation and orchestration will be adopted even more. The next-generation cloud environment happens to be very diverse. Many automation tools now place governance and advanced policy control directly into their product. There are technologies that allow cloud admins to control security aspects of their cloud and gain quite a bit of visibility. Aside from being able to control costs around resource utilization, this type of platform creates a very dynamic automated cloud platform. Scaling, orchestration, and even multi-cloud controls are all built in. Here’s the cool part: your cloud automation platform now becomes proactive as well. In working with automation and analytics, you’re able to visualize and forecast requirements for your cloud infrastructure. Business, workflow, and data center orchestration/automation technologies will help organizations control resources and even optimize the overall user experience. Remember, you’re creating a proactive environment capable of adapting to very dynamic market shifts. Furthermore, you’re controlling the economics around resource and data center management. Automation and orchestration allows administrators to focus on growing the business rather than persistently dealing with putting out fires. When you look at orchestration and automation technologies, you can now look to the cloud. Completely cloud-born tools allow you to integrate various cloud as well as data center resource points. All of this enables the business to be a lot more agile with their critical IT ecosystem.

  • Architecture convergence will change data center economics. The days of resources locked in siloes are quickly coming to an end. The challenge there becomes lost resources, challenges around management, and controlling a user’s experience. This is where converged infrastructure comes into play. You’ll see this conversation really take off this year as we define more use cases and more technologies pushing converged infrastructure forward. Some vendors will sell physical converged platforms, while others will work with hyperconvergence and actually have virtual appliances capable of aggregating all resources. Regardless, converged infrastructure is helping data center managers create greater level so of multi-tenancy and resource controls. According to a recent Gartner report, “hyperconverged integrated systems will represent over 35 percent of total integrated system market revenue by 2019.” This makes it one of the fastest-growing and most valuable technology segments in the industry today. Whether you need a physical node or two – or complete hypervisor integration – converged architectures are allowing administrators powerful control mechanisms around their business and data center ecosystem. Furthermore, integrating cloud, virtual applications and desktops, and even distributed resources becomes easier with a converged platform. With this in mind, before you go through your next hardware refresh, make sure to understand your use-cases and know where a possible converged infrastructure could actually help optimize your business.

Between now and 2020, we’re going to see an explosion in data center and cloud utilization. As more devices connect, we’ll have to manage, secure, and deliver all of that information. New solutions around automation and orchestration will help with resource control and data center interconnectivity. Furthermore, new security strategies will aim to enable the business while still securing corporate and user data. We’re going to see a big boom in the SMB and the mid-market space as more of these organizations realize the direct competitive advantages of using next-generation data center technologies while incorporating new kinds of cloud services.

There has been a lot of maturity around some truly advanced technologies. All organizations who want to create a competitive edge will need to be looking at IT solutions that can help them stay agile and adjust to a very fluid market.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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