2016 trends in Data Centres


17 January 2016
Data centre predictions

Cloud computing, sustainability, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things are driving profound IT changes across all industries, leading to the emergence of new archetypes that will reshape the data centre landscape.

According to a report by Emerson Network Power, the dominant enterprise archetype today is the high-availability data centre with 2N power, redundant generators and cooling. Most enterprises, the report says, have added some form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to their IT architecture, and a growing number are moving to or investigating a bimodal architecture that recognises that different applications, data types and groups of users have different requirements in terms of speed of deployment, productivity, efficiency, resiliency and security.

According to the analysis, the move to bimodal is not the only example of an emerging archetype. The report identifies four additional data centre archetypes that will change the data centre landscape and improve productivity, drive down costs and increase agility:

The data fortress

The Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach study shows a 23 per cent increase in the cost of a privacy-related data security breach in the last two years, with total cost now at US$3.8 million. In addition, a Ponemon study of data centre downtime commissioned by Emerson Network Power found that the number of security-related downtime incidents rose from 2 per cent in 2010 to 22 per cent in 2015. The cost and frequency are rising to the point where some organisations have no choice but to take a security-first approach to data centre design.

According to the analysis, the next wave is the purpose-built, cold-storage facility with massive storage arrays protected by heavy investments in security systems and protected from access by all but authorised networks. Colocation facilities are now offering “secure suites” with dedicated power and thermal equipment, instead of the open-caged environments that have been standard, to improve physical security in their facilities.

Cloud of many drops

The reality of cloud computing today is that many enterprises are buying computing, primarily through SaaS deployments, to bring applications online faster and cheaper, at a time when in-house computing resources are underutilised. A 2015 study by Stanford’s Jonathan Koomey and Anthesis Group’s Jon Taylor, found that enterprise data centre servers still only deliver, on average, between 5 and 15 per cent of their maximum computing output over the course of a year. In addition, the study found that 30 per cent of physical servers have not delivered computing services in six months or more.

The Emerson report suggests that it shouldn’t be long before a technology platform is available that enables enterprises to not only tap into this unused capacity on-demand, but also sell their excess capacity on the open market. This shared services approach could result in increased enterprise server utilisation, extended life for existing data centres that move toward a self-support model, and the ability for enterprises to build new data centres based on average rather than peak demand.

Fog computing

Fog computing is a distributed computing architecture being promoted by Cisco in response to the Internet of Things. In the fog, application services are distributed across smart devices and micro data centres to improve efficiency and concentrate data processing so that only actionable data is transmitted. This, according to the Emerson report, provides a more efficient and effective method of dealing with the immense amount of data being generated by the sensors that comprise the Internet of Things. It also allows data to be aggregated and filtered locally to preserve bandwidth for actionable data.

The corporate social responsibility-compliant data centre

With industry energy consumption continuing to rise and gaining increased attention, some organisations are looking at how data centres fit into their corporate sustainability plans. These organisations, the report says, will take a more aggressive approach to data centre efficiency - adopting, for example, cooling with maximum economisation and UPS systems that apply active inverter eco mode that move seamlessly to high-efficiency mode - while also pushing for increased use of alternative energy, such as wind and solar, to power data centre operations and achieve carbon neutrality.

Said Anand Sanghi, president of Emerson Network Power in Asia, “We are in the midst of a profound digital transformation that is reshaping how businesses and consumers behave, connect and transact.”

Consequently, data centres are also evolving in response to this transformation to ensure that consumers are well-equipped to embrace emerging technologies, giving them the agility and capability to grow their business in a safe, secure, scalable and sustainable way, he added.