Drive Business Innovation, Scale at Will
Massive data proliferation, the cloud, app containerization, business competition and stagnant IT budgets combined to wreak havoc on old data center paradigms. Today, a modern data center does not embody a physical location as much as it represents a new operating model for business.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of enterprises will shut down their traditional data centers – those siloed, labor-intensive, slow to set up and expensive-to-maintain conglomerations of hardware and software.
However, the modern data center is far from dead. The new breed will be agile, automated, application-friendly and multicloud capable. For many organizations, data centers will continue to exist on-premises in some form. But these same companies, and legions more, will elect to modernize by leveraging colocation facilities and the public cloud.
Organizations that choose colocation and/or the public cloud to house their data centers do so to achieve higher availability and uptime standards, the ability to scale resources at will, and around-the-clock facilities management. Offloading routine management and maintenance of hardware and software to hosting facilities or public cloud frees organizational IT personnel to focus on more pressing business needs, sharpening competition. Other tangible benefits that can impact the bottom line include reduced capital and operating expenditures for hardware, smaller property leases, and even energy savings as data centers take a tremendous amount of power to cool.
Despite the clear benefits of operating data centers from colocation facilities or the public cloud, organizations should only proceed with migrations after extensive due diligence and planning. Compliance and security considerations are considerable, applications must be suited to run across distributed infrastructures, and usage costs must be fully understood. A “lift-and-shift” from on-premises services to hosted facilities or the cloud is never advisable. In fact, these hasty migrations have led to the phenomenon of cloud recoil, the process by which organizations bring their apps and workloads back into on-premises facilities due to a failed cloud or hosted experience.
Fortunately, Structured’s cloud and data center services experts are well versed in the type of review, planning, and budgeting exercises required to ensure smooth migrations. We offer extensive professional services to assist in these endeavors and avoid costly cloud migration mistakes.
Agility is the true hallmark of a modern data center. It is achieved by building a software-defined infrastructure that delivers virtualized compute, networking and storage resources as a unified, centrally managed service. A software-defined infrastructure allows for hardware components to be dynamically configured depending on need. This trend is moving beyond virtualization, and even somewhat beyond hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), into the realm of “composable” infrastructure, also known as infrastructure as code (IaC).
Composable infrastructure is flexible and adaptable because it does not need to be preconfigured for specific workloads. Users can independently scale compute, storage and networking resources as needed, which makes more efficient use of hardware and streamlines operations. This architecture is especially useful for DevOps teams working with containerized apps as it permits continuous resource reallocation and delivery services. Independent of hypervisors, hardware, and location, composable infrastructure can run apps and workloads on bare-metal servers as well as containers and VMs – on premises or across clouds. It offers the ultimate in agility.
Still, this technology is new and — like all maturing technologies — is not without drawbacks. Modern processor limitations, a lack of personnel with adequate expertise, and no real industry standards governing this technology today all combine to make the reality of composable infrastructure a little distant. HCI is much more common and well-understood.
Automation in the data center is another modernization trend, and one that is also rooted in agility and operational simplicity. Old manual methods of data center management – in-person monitoring, troubleshooting, maintenance, and resource provisioning – do not deliver services at the speed required by modern business. Automation removes the slower human element, allowing software to execute the necessary workflows and processes in a fraction of the computational time.
Automation saves time, but it also helps increase security by automatically extending rules and policies across the infrastructure. It quickly can identify problems caused by failing hardware and poor configurations. And, unlike humans, it is consistent. Patches are applied, backups are launched and reports are run if the software is programmed to complete those tasks.
Perhaps most beneficial, automation really democratizes network resources and helps businesses maintain their ability to speed goods and services — including application-based services — to market. With automation, IT teams can provision production-ready infrastructure located in on-premises data centers or in the cloud within minutes, not weeks. Users, whether they are in marketing, sales, DevOps, HR, IT, accounting or more, have equal, ready access to technology resources they need in near real-time.
Exponential data growth and device proliferation – including IoT devices in addition to ubiquitous smartphones and laptops — is driving another trend in data center modernization. And this trend, it seems, is flipping the concept of a data center onto its edge.
Connected devices are generating huge amounts of data outside of data center environments, both on-premises or in the cloud. This new “empowered edge” is forcing data center operators to extend powerful computing, storage and networking processes beyond data center boundaries to minimize latency and ensure good user experiences.
Wearables, robotics, self-driving cars – anything that is machine learning-enabled and AI-powered will continue to require massive resources, transforming how we understand and consume digital infrastructure. Security at the edge will be imperative. Structured understands how to build, scale and secure data center resources to promote edge computing and can mitigate the complexities inherent in this emerging reality.
Structured Professional Spotlight
Craig Rhodes, Managing Director of Data Center Services
As the Managing Director of Data Center Services at Structured, Craig is an experienced professional providing data center and program management consulting services. He has unique insight into both traditional on-premises and cloud-based data center projects, strategy, process improvement, business continuity planning, and organizational resilience.
Craig belongs to BICSI, (pursuing RTPM and DCDC certifications) as well as AFCOM, ASIS, and Infrastructure Masons. Craig is also a PMP Certified Project Manager through the Project Management Institute, with a BS in Finance and MS in Organization Development (Change Management).