6 data centre trends to watch in 2015

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Emerson Network Power’s latest report has identified six data centre trends to keep your eye on in 2015. Below are the six trends that are shaping the decisions data centre designers, operators and managers are making.

1. Cloud comes of age

Cloud computing has become established in the data centre ecosystem as most organisations already use some form of software-as-a-service (SaaS). Now cloud is poised to expand from that foothold and become an engine of innovation. Forward-looking organisations are combining cloud-based services such as analytics, collaboration, and communication to better understand their customers and bring new products and services to market faster.

The result is that a growing number of organisations will be managing hybrid environments in which on-premise IT resources are supplemented with strategic use of cloud and colocation services to enhance utilisation, resiliency and flexibility. For their part, cloud providers must demonstrate the ability to scale quickly while consistently meeting service level agreements, in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment. Cloud providers will drive innovation in the industry as they adopt technologies and practices that achieve high reliability at the lowest possible cost.

Gartner’s 2015 data centre report also predicts that a large portion of the compute, and therefore the storage and networking, capacity will move off-premises to cloud service providers that favor self-built or original design manufacturer (ODM) equipment, making a large portion of the market unattractive or unavailable to incumbent vendors.

2. Integration extends its reach

Integrated systems were developed to help organisations deploy and scale applications faster while reducing risk and total costs. With changes in many markets being driven by innovation, digitisation and mobility, the need for speed that integration and convergence delivers is greater than ever. As a result, integration and convergence has expanded beyond the IT stack to the systems that support that stack. Most notably, data centre facilities are now being designed and constructed from integrated, prefabricated modules.

This new approach to facility development has enabled organisations, such as Facebook, to develop fully customised, high performance data centres in 30% less time than it took using traditional construction processes. Combining the attributes of fast deployment, inherent scalability and excellent performance, this approach is becoming an attractive alternative for supporting additional IT capacity.

3. Convergence goes macro

Technology systems aren’t the only things experiencing a convergence. The telecommunications and IT industries are moving closer together as voice and data services are now routinely consumed on the same device. In fact, more than half of the participants in the Data Centre 2025 project predicted that at least 60% of telecommunications network facilities will be data centres by 2025, and 79% expect at least half of telecommunications companies to make colocation facilities part of their networks.

This convergence will drive more standardisation in the technologies used to support voice and data services and break down the silos that have traditionally existed between these two critical functions.

4. Software paves the way for more software

Virtualisation marked one of the most significant trends in the data centre industry in the last twenty years. The impact of this development will continue to drive change for the foreseeable future as virtualisation extends beyond computing to networking and storage. One of the key challenges in this virtual revolution is going to be hardware management. Most organisations lack the visibility to manage virtual and physical systems in concert, and that gap must be closed to pave the way for the software-defined data centre. Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) has emerged to fill this gap and early adopters are proving its value: data centres with DCIM recover from outages 85% faster than those without it, according to a 2013 study of data centre outages by the Ponemon Institute.

According to Gartner, established vendors seeking to offset eroding margins are working to carve a place for themselves in new and disruptive technology markets, such as software-defined networking, software-defined storage, extreme low-energy processors and hyperconverged systems.

5. The edge gets stronger

After years of consolidation and centralisation, IT organisations are turning their attention to the edge of the network to improve interactions with customers and applications. As organisations grow their use of analytics, location-based services, and personalised content, edge of network facilities will become critical in achieving competitive advantage. Capitalising on this opportunity will require standard, intelligent and high availability infrastructure deployed close to users. Just as organisations struggled to keep pace with computing demand in the first decade of this century, enterprises that don’t address the networking issues related to the edge will find themselves unable to keep pace with the explosive growth in network traffic.

6. Security becomes the new availability

When it comes to risk mitigation, data centre managers have long had a singular focus: prevent downtime. Downtime hasn’t become any less of a risk, but a new threat has emerged in the form of cyber security. When one of the highest profile security breaches in the last 18 months was traced back to the HVAC system, data centre managers and IT security specialists took notice. Increasingly, data centre and facility managers will have to work with their IT security teams to audit the technology and software of data centre equipment to ensure security and evaluate the security practices of the contractors and service providers that have access to that equipment.

Gartner adds that the increased focus on "as a service" delivery will also produce increasing expectations around customer service and support. It will also require new approaches to data centre security design, such as extended perimeters.

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