Cloud Is on the Horizon, but the Data Center Still Reigns

By: Jacqueline Lee| - Leave a comment

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Late last year, a McKinsey study on enterprise cloud adoption found that fewer than 20 percent of x86 workloads currently execute in the cloud. Despite such limited cloud usage now, however, a recent survey from the Uptime Institute predicts greater cloud migration in the near future as businesses cope with increased IT demand, CIO reports.

One-third of the survey respondents plan to move workloads from an existing data center into the cloud in the near future, and McKinsey agrees, predicting that 80 percent of large enterprises will host at least one workload with a hyperscale cloud provider by 2018.

Despite some movement toward public cloud, the IT pros surveyed say server consolidation has made it easier to add more workloads close to home.

“Increased performance at the processor level, further expansion of server virtualization and the adoption of cloud computing have all created an IT foundation that differs greatly from those seen just five years ago,” explains Matt Stansberry, Uptime’s senior director of content and publications, according to CIO.

Data Center Expansion Is Flat

In spite of continued usage of existing facilities, few businesses plan to expand on-premises data centers: 60 percent told Uptime they expect facility footprints to either shrink or stay the same.

Adding new workloads doesn’t require expansion, thanks to server consolidation through virtualization. Jay Dietrich, distinguished engineer for energy and climate stewardship at IBM, explained to IT Biz Advisor that “if my equipment’s operating at 10 percent on average and I move that up to 40 percent, I can quadruple the workload but only increase energy consumption by 10 or 15 percent.”

Even when businesses need more equipment, they’re not necessarily expending capital to add square footage. Instead, many organizations are turning to prefabricated, modular data centers, which can deliver temporary added capacity at one site before being moved to another.

Procurement Challenges

Due to insufficient frameworks for evaluating different cloud providers, IT professionals struggle to procure cloud or co-location services. As cloud brokerage matures, this challenge will resolve itself since IT will use software-as-a-service cloud brokerage dashboards to view competing providers, forecast usage and budget for workloads in real time.

In addition to cloud brokerage, increased automation through function-as-a-service (FaaS) means less reliance on large-scale infrastructure-as-a-service procurement. Between cloud brokerage and FaaS, IT organizations will continue to invest more in development and less in operations. Instead of paying for infrastructure and staff to implement cloud on-site, IT will shift focus from ops toward building value-added applications.

Bottom line: Two-thirds of workloads may still run on-premises now, but the future of the data center is already being decided by more efficient equipment, cloud brokerage expansion and FaaS. But at present, Uptime indicates that only 13 percent of workloads currently run in a public cloud environment, and another 22 percent either run in co-location facilities or are hosted with multitenant data center providers.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media manager and freelance editor. She's a member of the American Copy Editors Society and is completing a certificate in editing from the Poynter Institute.

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