With seemingly constant introduction of new technology and the growing adoption of the most beneficial innovations, data centers have become more and more critical to business operation. The sheer amount of data is putting immense pressure on businesses’ storage capabilities. But storage alone is a bare minimum need.
Data center management is the means by which a provider can meet its customers’ performance requirements. How are data centers adapting? What are the most important emerging technologies that are putting pressure on data centers?
Virtualization has long been the new norm in computing, but the application of the overarching concept continues to grow. Generally speaking, virtualization is the use of an abstraction to make software look and behave like hardware. The practice has offered businesses far greater flexibility, scalability and reliability, ultimately offering outstanding performance and cost savings.
Virtual machines, desktop infrastructure, memory, storage and networks are all either well-established or becoming increasingly common. And the more computing becomes virtual, the more dependent we all are on the cloud, colocation and data centers managing the behind-the-scenes demands and complexities.
Mobile and IoT devices have also grown at a rapid rate in the last five years. Beyond smartphones, individual users now own more devices than ever, all of which store scores of data. The smart home is a hub of data from devices such as thermostats, locks, lights and much more. Web-enabled sensors used in manufacturing are another source of big data. As these devices become more commonplace, the need for data storage will continue skyrocketing.
Of course, not all devices and their software are created equal. Certain emerging technology uses much more data than our parents’ devices.
Virtual and augmented reality require far more data than simple images and video. Healthcare facilities have created virtual reality experiences to give patients who will undergo surgery an idea of what their operation will be like. On the lighter side, Pokémon Go became the most popular example of AR. But these are just some of the few examples of a market on the verge of explosion. Global VR and AR revenue are forecasted to increase by at least 100% in the next four years.
Open sourcing has become one of the most instrumental responses to the flood of big data. As businesses have struggled to make sense of their oceans of data – structured and unstructured – they’ve searched for formidable data and analytics solutions. Of the 40 most popular open-source projects indexed by TechCrunch, 15 of them are powering databases and data processing. Oracle, Google, Cloudera and Databricks are some of the most prominent names in open-source data management. With the ability to modify such an application’s source code, software developers can make applications more useful and minimize errors over time.
Data centers are already “a proven solution in responding to and supporting the latest technological demands,” writes Nick Ismail of Information Age. “The rise of online gaming, IoT applications and streaming services is producing vast amounts of information which need to be processed and stored; the same will be said for AR technology, but it is worth noting that not every facility is the same.”
Indeed, not all data centers have adapted to the growing needs of businesses. Advancements in connectivity, speed and storage capabilities are essential to keeping up with business demands. Structural changes to cooling systems and new server configurations are a start. But adapting the management of a data center is the most important change.
High-performance computing (HPC) technology allows data center providers to quickly and easily scale operations within colocation facilities. Rather than adding servers, HPC technology empowers data centers to store and process more data within a normal rack space and deliver the requisite power. It also allows data centers to automate the load balancing and routing of network traffic to maintain bandwidth for network traffic, for example.
But beyond the technology itself are the experts who are in charge of strategically upgrading their facilities and designing the proper solution for each unique business and its data needs. Data center managers are becoming more involved in operations, ready to solve any problem or situation, which often requires outside-of-the-box thinking. This can be difficult for a machine managed system to do as machines are still bound by algorithms and data.
As worldwide data center traffic approaches 15 ZB – three times the data from 2015 – data centers must continue to remain flexible and adaptable. In order to maintain optimal performance and economics, these providers will need to be as innovative as the technological world around them.
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