The importance, role and functionality of data centres will change over the next five years, leaving many organisations unclear on how to plan their future data centre architectures.
Gartner believes technical, fiscal and service delivery concerns will be critical and organisations should plan around eight forces to shape their best data centre strategies.
"Over the next five to 10 years most organisations will need to change their approach to previous data centre strategies used in the last five to seven years," says Rakesh Kumar, research vice president, Gartner.
"Most of the world comes out of recession and the Nexus of Forces (social, mobile, cloud and information) affects technology use.
"Historically, data centres have been viewed solely as service delivery centres in which cost and risk must be balanced.
"Agility, a critical third variable, will become increasingly important in future."
Kumar claims agility is the speed at which the IT organisation responds to business needs such as greater use of mobile and social information to market products, or contactless payment systems. The ability of the IT organisation to respond quickly to these changes will be a reflection of its agility.
Gartner has identified eight areas to consider when developing a data centre strategy that balances cost, risk and agility:
Start Deploying Processor, Memory and Power Efficient Technologies
The next few years will bring significant enhancements to process architectures and the economics of processor and memory components will change.
In-memory computing, where the primary location for application data is the main memory of the computing environment, will become more widely used, helped by ever-cheaper DRAM and NAND flash memory.
At the same time, the use of low-energy processors in servers will increase, with the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption costs.
Move toward a Balanced Architectural Topology and Delivery Model
The architecture of systems deployed in data centers will change over the next five years and the topology of the data center delivery model is also changing.
The use of cloud and a range of hosting providers will continue to increase over the next few years as many organisations shift their IT spending from capital expenditure to operating expenditure.
The boundaries between the traditional types of infrastructure outsourcing — managed hosting, data center outsourcing (DCO), and DCO-related services such as remote infrastructure management — are becoming blurred.
Gartner predicts that these markets will converge over the next 10 years as providers increasingly deliver their services on cloud-enabled system infrastructure.
Invest in Operational Processes and Improved Tools
Enterprise data centers are centralised and highly critical IT service delivery hubs relying on well-orchestrated operational processes.
This involves understanding, documenting and constantly reviewing end-user service levels and mapping them back into the core IT delivery capabilities. The major areas of concern are around change, problem, configuration and asset management.
Looking ahead, areas such as enterprise security, data management and mapping business processes to core IT processes, will become even more critical — and as agility becomes an increasingly important measure of data center value, improvements in operational processes are vital.
Integrate Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity into Your Core Data Center Strategy
With socioeconomic turbulence in many regions of the world and changes to corporate governance affecting many business areas, strong and well-documented disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning is essential for all large data centers.
However, this must evolve from a separate, specialised project plan into an integral part of the overall data center strategy.
The move away from a "just-in-case" strategy to making BC and DR a part of continuous data operations will reduce cost and potentially improve agility.
Check out Part Two of Gartner's Top 8 critical forces shaping Data Centre strategy on Techday.com tomorrow