Why a modern data centre strategy is needed for the digital world

As a new digital world emerges from the impact of the SMAC technology stack (social media, mobility, analytics and cloud), the personality, structure and role of data centres will need to change or business agility and competitive strength will be compromised. A new approach to data centre demand and management is required. In a previous blog, we discussed why data centre transformation is required to make way for innovation, but what constitutes a modern data centre strategy?

Data centre: dead or alive?

The data centre has long been a staple of the IT ecosystem. Its future however has been in question for some time, and as cloud computing becomes mainstream, many believe its demise is imminent. Some even say it’s already dead; according to ZDNet, 2014 was “the year that killed the data centre”. While this may be the case for smaller businesses that don’t have a large established IT infrastructure in place, the cloud certainly hasn’t killed the enterprise-owned data centre. In fact, we are seeing a boom in data centre innovation, not just driven by cloud providers but by ‘conventional’ companies that still see running world-class data centres as part of their competitive advantage.

One of these companies is General Motors. As part of its three-year IT overhaul following a brush with bankruptcy, the company closed 23 of its data centres worldwide and moved most of that capacity into two new data centres in Michigan, built alongside two existing GM engineering locations. Reducing the distance for data to travel was a huge financial motivator for the company, which not only saves on networking costs but has also improved responsiveness. The new data centres are ‘private-cloud-meets-mainframe’ operations – while they run cloud-ready apps on highly virtualised servers, GM also had to account for the long running legacy software that didn’t fit the shared private cloud model.

From silos to integration

However, this is not to say that major infrastructure deployments are making a comeback; data centre spending is slowing down on the whole. Gartner research found that worldwide data centre systems spending is projected to reach AU$131 billion in 2015, a 1.8 per cent increase from 2014. Compare this to growth of the enterprise software market, where spending is on track to total AU$306 billion this year, a 5.5 per cent increase from 2014. In Australia, organisations are forecast to spend $2.5 billion on data centre systems in 2015, an increase from $2.3 billion in 2014. But despite this spending increase, the number of data centres in Australia is declining as businesses focus on improving cost-efficiency and agility.

Whether or not in-house data centres will survive comes down to a company’s requirements. Most organisations – especially those such as General Motors that have been established for some time – have existing IT infrastructure and operations that cannot just disappear. However, if you are an enterprise running your own data centre, expect a significant shift. At a minimum, the size of your existing data centre will shrink, even if you’re in a heavily regulated industry. But to truly support the transformation to digital business capabilities and models, you need to build an integrated data centre – a converged infrastructure where hardware and software are rolled into a self-provisioning pool of shared resources. This will be a challenge for many organisations, given their likely starting point is a data centre where applications, servers, storage and networking are operated in silos that don’t integrate very well together. According to Gartner, there are six key technology and process foundations that make up the integrated data centre: software-defined, optimised resources, new infrastructure models, new operational models, hybrid alternatives and non-stop operations. These are explained in more detail here.

The data centre reborn

As the core engine delivering IT services, the data centre will need to become more agile and responsive than ever as the digital world brings a host of new technologies that need to be managed differently. Servers need to be consolidated and fully virtualised, and new levels of integration achieved with converged infrastructure systems. The cloud hasn’t killed the enterprise-owned data centre; in fact, it’s given it a new lease on life.

To read more about the modern data centre, click here to read our complimentary whitepaper, ‘Enabling Tomorrow’s Data Centre’.

Tags digital strategy, Digital Transformation, Data Centre, Data Centre transformation, featured, Private Cloud, Infrastructure, software defined infrastructure, virtualisation


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