What’s the Future for the Data Center?

A report by Gartner forecasts that by 2025, 80 percent of organizations will have closed down their data centers — that’s compared to 10 percent in 2018. The challenge for IT is to prepare for that change and to identify the future role for the data center – if any.

The assumption in the report is that digital infrastructure and the cloud will be the predominant environment, but the traditional data center may still have a limited role to play. According to Gartner, it will become a ‘holding area’ for legacy applications that cannot be economically supported in the cloud, or that must remain on premise to meet regulatory or compliance requirements.

Evolution May Not be Enough

Traditional data centers have evolved and provided a secure, reliable environment for critical enterprise applications. However, their infrastructure no longer provides the agility to adapt to change or deliver new services with the speed business requires. Cloud has changed the rules. But, for many organizations, the challenge is which cloud and which workloads?

It’s no longer a matter of building the application or service to work with the existing infrastructure. With multiple cloud offerings, IT teams can now choose the most suitable environment. That makes applications and services more important than infrastructure in determining an IT strategy. The main focus is on driving value and delivering the right customer experience.

So, in choosing between legacy data center and cloud, or different types of cloud, IT teams must consider and balance a number of important factors. These include location, availability, performance, resilience, data protection and compliance.

Hybrid Strategy Essential

Because specific workloads differ in their requirements, Gartner believes that a hybrid strategy is likely to emerge, with organizations using a number of clouds, as well as the traditional data center where it’s appropriate.

But, that poses a further challenge — how to interconnect multiple providers to operate a single strategy that can be centrally managed. So, IT strategy must also focus on networking — determining the best way to provide users and customers with fast, secure access to data, applications and services, wherever they are located. Software-defined networking is likely to play a key role, using business rules to provide the flexibility and performance to meet the demands of different workloads.

Changing Skills Requirements

With the right level of interconnect, a collection of multiple providers can evolve into an integrated ecosystem that provides the resources and agility to meet changing business requirements. Managing that ecosystem will require tools and processes that enable it to gain visibility into all environments and apply consistent standards of performance to all providers.

IT staff skills will also have to evolve to meet the challenges of the new environment. Staff with traditional data center skills and experience need to adjust to the pace and complexity of multiple cloud infrastructures featuring different delivery models.

As well as managing hybrid environments, IT staff also need to understand business requirements and translate those into digital solutions. And, staff who continue to manage legacy infrastructures must balance the need to maintain operational efficiency with the development of new services.

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