IT infrastructure: The data centre of the future is still in the making

Data centres are also affected by changing times. Several new approaches that will shape the data centre of the future are already emerging today. The objectives are still the same as they were decades ago: higher capacity, lower costs and more flexibility.

Data centre supplier Emerson Network Power (now Vertiv) outlines what direction the development may take, based on four models for the structure and operation of future data centres:

  • The data fortress: Cyber attacks have already led to failures at large international companies because our increasingly networked world offers hackers ever more weak points. When it comes to data centre planning, some companies thus put the absolute priority on security. For highly sensitive data they set up data pods outside of the network, in some cases even provided with their own power supply and air conditioning, which can therefore definitely be considered a sort of data fortress.
  • Unused resources: Despite the progress achieved through virtualisation, many servers are underused. Several studies show that servers use only 5 to 15% of their maximum computing power and that up to 30% of servers are “sleepers”. In the future companies may well start using shared service models, in order to sell some of their surplus capacity and thus become part of the cloud. Another alternative would be to decrease the size of entire data centres, i.e. fewer components on a smaller footprint. One question nevertheless remains: are IT managers going to admit that they have worked for years with useless but costly systems?
  • Fog computing: Given the increasing importance of computing at the edge of the network, distributed architectures are becoming increasingly common. Fog computing as presented by Cisco means that several small networks are linked up into one large network. Application services are then distributed at the edge of the network via intelligent devices and computing systems in order to increase efficiency and pool the data processing closer to the devices and networks. This is a logical response to the enormous amounts of data that are to be expected to accompany the Internet of Things.
  • Corporate social responsibility: A company’s social responsibility can also result in a new kind of data centre. Energy efficiency is one of the main challenges facing an industry with a seemingly boundless demand for energy. Factors such as a reduction in the CO2 footprint can, however, also prompt companies to shift towards greater sustainability and social responsibility. This also means that companies would have to considerably reduce energy costs in their data centres.
  • (Source: Emerson (now Vertiv)/bs)