Your 2016 Wish List: Seven Gifts for the Discerning Data Center

By: Jacqueline Lee| - Leave a comment

Every data center is its own special snowflake. A medium-sized company’s on-premises data center, a remote collocation facility and a large telco carrier’s data centers vary widely when it comes to budget, infrastructure and customer requirements.

No matter what size facility you’re operating — or outsourcing to — tomorrow’s data center will be built around a few core trends. From full-fledged software-defined environments (SDEs) to a little help from your managed services provider, here’s a list of wishes for 2016.

Big Wishes: The Software-Defined Environment

The SDE dynamically assigns workloads for multiple data center functions including compute, storage, management and network. Workloads are configured and optimized based on service-level policies, application characteristics and best-available resources. Data center administrators can deploy new applications or settings at the touch of a button, or they can use automated processes and infrastructure analytics for dynamic management.

1. Open-Standards Cloud Orchestration and Management

Most data centers contain resources, including both software and hardware, from a range of different vendors. Choosing cloud management solutions based on open standards means both a more affordable transition to SDE and freedom from vendor lock-in. You also gain more flexibility when migrating applications to cloud environments as well as bursting options when your on-premises or hosted resources just aren’t enough.

A lot of businesses prefer some private cloud infrastructure, whether on-premises or hosted, for 24/7 production applications and cost control. They also want public cloud infrastructure available when they need it, and both elements need to play nicely together. Within the data center, centralized cloud orchestration and management makes it possible to allocate resources to these different environments. For cloud services providers, it also becomes easier to define and fine-tune better service-level agreements (SLAs).

2. Software-Defined Compute (SDC) and Software-Defined Network (SDN)

The SDE is built around virtualization of both compute and network resources. With virtual machines (VM) and network function virtualization (NFV), dynamic allocation and prioritization of functions on the network happen instantly, and often without human intervention.

You can spin up a VM in hours or even minutes, but today’s networks can take days to provision. With virtualization and a centralized control plane, you can manage not only VMs, but also virtual networks separate from the physical network. An intelligent SDN can deliver differentiated experiences based on quality of service priorities and even the different devices used to access the network.

You’ll reduce operating expense in networking, you’ll realize savings in compute and storage, and you’ll generate revenue by getting services into production much more quickly.

3. Software-Defined Storage (SDS)

Data centers usually have a mishmash of storage hardware within their walls consisting of a mix of hard and solid-state drives (SSDs). SDS can manage and pool the disparate resources you already have, providing highly scalable, optimized storage for both your physical and virtual hosts.

Smaller — But Still Relevant — Wishes

Not every data center has the budget to roll out a complete SDE vision in 2016. Here are some less comprehensive but still essential items to hope for in the future.

4. Threat Intelligence Platform

Threat intelligence helps you determine which security alerts are serious, respond to data breaches more quickly and better anticipate an attacker’s next move. According to a SecurityWeek, CISOs need better ways to communicate security data to managers who aren’t security experts. Good threat intelligence tools also offer attractive, accessible presentations about security.

5. Flash Storage

A survey of corporate data center executives, operators and developers by Mortenson revealed 84 percent of enterprises want solutions for better data center energy efficiency. Switching to SSDs can slash your energy costs and significantly enhance storage capacity.

6. Point Automation Tools

If centralized automation isn’t in your data center budget, at least start automating simple tasks using inexpensive point automation tools.

7. Managed Services

When it makes sense to move to a managed service, both in terms of spending and expertise, do it. One simple example: Instead of managing access controls locally, switch to single sign-on through an identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) solution.

Anticipating Tomorrow’s Data Center Needs

As you transform your data center, choose a systems services partner that’s already planning for the future. That way, you know your next-gen services will be ready the moment you make a wish.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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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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