Early signs suggest that 2016 is a year that will see many new challenges and exciting opportunities for data centers. New technologies and fresh innovation can be both beneficial and disruptive. Failing to keep tabs on the most significant new data center trends can leave businesses at a severe disadvantage. While the operational requirements needed to ensure a highly resource-efficient operation will likely remain unchanged, the exponential increase in computational power seen within the industry will create many new challenges and circumstances that will require a prompt and effective response.
1. Unified IT Infrastructure
Data centers are increasingly combining key IT systems and components into a single unified system. Such an approach has many potential advantages that may include:
- The ability to manage all infrastructure through a single software layer
- Unified systems allow for streamlined and efficient maintenance efforts
- Integration of key systems improves operational efficiency
While system integration and unified infrastructure may benefit day to day operations, the efforts needed to restructure existing resources is often considerable. Data centers that overlook the potential benefits of this trend may find themselves struggling to catch up to early adopters within the near future.
A conventional IT infrastructure is fast becoming a liability that few businesses can afford. The additional time, effort and cost needed to maintain decentralized systems or conduct daily operations across a wide range of separate systems and digital working environments can significantly impair productivity and efficiency. Investing in the creation of a unified digital infrastructure can ensure that data centers are able to create a more flexible and adaptive working process. Greater flexibility may prove to be a crucial asset throughout 2016 and beyond.
2. Scalable Infrastructure Offers Greater Flexibility and Responsiveness
The ability to expand and contract depending on current business requirements is often a critical concern. Larger data centers often have the abundant resources needed to better adapt to specific challenges while smaller operations are required to focus on resiliency in order to stay competitive. Conventional technology often requires businesses to create a digital infrastructure that is extensive, costly and rigid. New innovations allow data centers to enjoy the same level of redundancy and resiliency while creating infrastructure that is more adaptive, streamlined and efficient.
The current trend towards greater automation within data centers has the potential to reduce work loads and minimize human errors. Automated working processes may also provide additional benefits such as:
- Enhanced efficiency
- Reduced response time to equipment failure and other technical problems
- Lower operational expense due to reduced staffing and training costs
As more automated management and working processes become the norm, there will be a shift in how professional interact with their IT environment. Working environments that benefit from an enhanced level of automation often require fewer employees. Creating a leaner and more efficient staff and ensuring that key professionals have a firm grasp on the new knowledge and skills needed to operate in such environments is a concern few businesses can afford to overlook.
Professionals need to become comfortable moving away from daily tasks that are mundane and repetitive, such as provisional storage. Organizations within the industry are hiring professionals that possess entirely new skill sets in greater numbers than ever before. The skills and qualifications needed to integrate new and existing systems and manage workflow within an automated environment have the potential to become a critical asset. Businesses that fail to automate could be facing an uphill battle in the days to come.
4. Cloud Services and Data Center Pricing
Current trends provide every indication that cloud services will continue to disrupt and influence the pricing models utilized by the data center industry. Such trends include:
- Data centers distancing themselves from obsolete technology in increasing numbers
- More organizations are investing in hybrid-cloud services that provide greater flexibility at lower costs
- Industry leaders continue to prioritize services and infrastructure that offers enhanced flexibility and agility
Transformational technologies like the cloud are allowing all businesses to employ more flexible, creative and cost-effective solutions. Even small incremental changes that utilize cloud services can empower businesses to create a more stable working environment or employ an operational process that minimizes risk. Data centers stand to benefit from the more productive and collaborative workforces made possible by the cloud.
5. Agility and Adaptability
Current data center trends show that today’s operations are both shrinking and expanding. Higher-density storage, more adaptive infrastructure and the ability to move key processes to the cloud allow data centers to provide a greater range of services while minimizing their need for physical space. Modernizing a conventional operation may allow operations to reduce their footprints by up to 50 percent while still enhancing their overall level of service and range of operations.
In addition to higher overhead costs, maintaining a larger physical space can negatively impact productivity. A leaner and more agile organizational layout minimizes distractions and alleviates the need for professionals to manage their physical environment. Trends of smaller physical operations that are able to provide an expanded range of services as well as enhanced performance and efficiency can provide a preview of what the industry may expect in the coming months and years.
Investing in the Future
Many of the most important and exciting data center trends are interrelated. Focus that is too narrow in scope and a close-minded attitude about new technology can mean that even businesses that invest in the most promising new trends and innovations may not achieve the level of results they are seeking. The rapid pace of technological advancement and development is changing the way that data centers operate. Organizations that fail to keep pace with emerging trends could find themselves struggling just to stay competitive and viable in the near future.