August 10, 2021
Did anyone ever really believe in the death of the enterprise data center? Perhaps not. But there is a decline – in spending, numbers, square footage.
More accurate to say is that the traditional data center has transformed – as has pretty much every other facet of IT. Today, the enterprise is looking to capitalize on its data center infrastructure assets while taking advantage of key services and new technology capabilities that help drive better business outcomes.
Here’s our take on six ways that this will manifest over the mid-term:
- The data center will become part of a larger ecosystem.
We’re seeing the development of an ecosystem that puts the data center at the core of operations, integrating with public cloud on one side and edge locations on the other.
Companies are expanding their edge locations at an accelerated rate. Why? Most enterprises want to put processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence as close to the source of the data as possible, so that they can react to that data and make intelligent and automated decisions quickly. Manufacturing facilities, oil rigs — these types of remote locations all will have some form of edge processing.
Edge locations have to be integrated with the data center and with public cloud for centralized processing of less time-critical data and access to more storage and other resources.
A recent report Gartner predicted that by 2025, 85% of infrastructure strategies will be hybrid compared to just 20% at the start of the decade. But it’s a challenge to integrate the edge, the cloud and the core, because of all the components involved – edge compute capability, network connectivity, software. And there’s rapid change in the tools and technology to manage all that.
It’s not easy for the enterprise to adapt to this on its own. DXC is helping companies through the challenge, leveraging our ITO, cloud and other critical end-to-end data center technologies.
- Data center and public cloud connections will get faster.
High-speed, low-latency connections between traditional data centers and public cloud will become the norm.
Several DXC data centers already have this in place, as do many co-location providers. Having data centers very close in proximity to public cloud providers’ access points is optimal for high-speed connectivity with public cloud providers, the hyperscalers.
So, customers can start sharing data with the public internet very, very efficiently — just as they do with their normal or traditional on-premises servers and technology.
- Companies will become more selective about where their workloads will reside.
Many companies want to consolidate their data centers because they’re fixed-expense and fixed-capacity environments. Public cloud is an option but businesses are finding that it isn’t always a good fit for everything.
On-premises processing is still very critical for most enterprises, but it doesn’t have to happen in a customer-owned data center. They can get the same flexibility and cost benefits by an off-site, outsourced data center.
It’s really important to map out a modernization plan to determine strategy for particular workloads and how to optimize processes in each situation. We have a formal set of processes and tools that can help you build a business case and recommend the landing zones workloads should reside in, the feasibility of moving them and the anticipated costs.
Now, there are also opportunities to shift from buying or leasing hardware outright for an off-site data center to an as-a-service model that’s consumption-based and offers flexible capacity. Two of our partners, Dell and HPE, have programs like this, and it’s a good way to go for customers with a dynamic footprint – that is, they’re growing rapidly or have very seasonal changes in their business.
- Storage capabilities will become integrated.
In the past, you had discrete technology for primary storage, backup, and disaster recovery. But primary storage, backup and disaster recovery are getting highly integrated. That allows customers to recover their data much, much faster — in minutes instead of days. We're working with some of our providers, like Pure Storage and Veritas, to deliver that type of integration across storage.
- Hyper-automation and self-healing will play a big role in the data center.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation will be used to intelligently evolve the data center operating model. The goal is to remake the data center, as much as possible, into a no-touch environment — NoOps is the new term.
For there to be as little human intervention as possible, you need to both automate events to create agile and secure operations and lower costs, and automate how you respond to incidents in a very timely fashion. That’s self-healing. We're constantly investing in that space and it’s maturing very rapidly.
- The data center will get greener.
The move to creating green data center operations will continue to grow. We have to continue that mission to improve sustainability by increasing efficiency and the use of renewable energy in data centers.
More and more capacity is being added in enterprise data centers and those data centers that run public cloud. They use a tremendous amount of energy, and that’s not supportable over the long term. We have to manage the energy footprint more efficiently, so that we can continue to add more compute capacity without tremendous environmental impact.
Our partners like HPE, Dell and Pure Storage have been creating energy-efficient hardware and infrastructure for many years. For instance, HPE and Dell automatically turn off the CPUs in their servers when they’re not in use for a period of time, and they turn back on automatically when demand comes in. That significantly reduces energy consumption and our customers have seen dramatic improvements.
From all these perspectives — the future of the data center is bright. In other words, the data center will never die.