Who Took the Center out of Data Center?
By Anna Frazzetto, Chief Digital Technology Officer & SVP, Harvey Nash
How the Migration of Data Centers and Infrastructure Does & Doesn’t Change IT
Remember the tech days when the size and sophistication of your enterprise data center was a bragging right? For IT leaders of all industries at one time speaking of square footage, server counts, staff numbers, and cooling capabilities said something important about the power, security, and possibility of infrastructure and innovation capabilities. It was a center of corporate IT strength and capability. But then something happened. Someone or something took the center out of enterprise data centers. Who was it and how do you maintain and continue to improve your center of IT strength when infrastructure is transforming?
Who DID It? The Suspects
The first culprit in the enterprise data center’s changing role is the CFO. More fairly, you would say that tighter tech budgets, rising tech costs, and the recruitment expenditure it takes to find and hire skilled data center talent are forcing CFOs and other c-suite leaders to question the high cost of owning and managing enterprise data centers. For most enterprises, the rapidly rising volume of data created, managed, and stored has been a data center wake up call, forcing business leaders, CFOs, COOs, CEOs, and CIOs alike, to find more efficient ways to manage and run IT infrastructure.
That leads us to the second culprit, the cloud. Where at one time buying servers was the norm, enterprises today are saving costs and gaining computing power by renting services in the cloud. Although Gartner reported that the data center system segment of the IT market will likely grow at a rate of 0.3 percent in 2017, slightly up from a receding market in 2016, “the segment is experiencing a slowdown in the server market.” Gartner also slashed its global IT spending forecast for 2017 citing both changes in the currency market (strong US dollar) as well as shifts in data center spending as more businesses move away from server purchasing and towards renting serve space in the cloud.
The physical center of data operations may be shifting but the heart of IT innovation remains wherever clever technologists can use their skills and tools
The final culprit is APAC. Enterprise data centers are gradually shrinking or moving out of many IT organizations worldwide. Now, mega data centers with hyper scale computing capabilities and the ability to host astounding amounts of data are growing across APAC. In fact, it’s where the majority of the world’s largest data centers now reside. It’s also where enterprise data centers are transforming into virtual centers where co-location and cloud computing form the backbone of IT infrastructure. Why? Sustainable costs and strong talent have made APAC a highly attractive co-location and cloud computing center.
How Do You Maintain Strength with a Shifting Center?
If the enterprise data center was the center of corporate IT strength and capability, can IT remain a center of ingenuity even as many data and infrastructure resources, systems, and teams migrate out? Absolutely. The continued migration of tech infrastructure offers an opportunity to shift resources and operations and embrace virtualization and automation to build a more strategic, agile way to work. Where bragging rights of old might have been server numbers and square footage, new measures of infrastructure excellence today are factors like automation, scalability, and security. Here are a few tips to ensure that IT remains a center of business strength as data centers evolve.
Embrace Automation and New Skills - Many administrative tasks of old are falling away as the advanced automation capabilities in new data center and cloud models redefine work. With automated monitoring and reporting built in, many administrative tech roles are no longer needed. However, more strategic tech roles are becoming essential in areas like disaster recovery, DevOps, cloud integration and management, customer engagement/experience, and security. Who is hired and their strategic tech and business skills will become important IT infrastructure investments of today and the future.
Leverage the Speed - While cutting ongoing maintenance costs and increasing efficiency are standard measures of IT infrastructure effectiveness, speed and agility should also become the strengths of the evolved enterprise data center. Research by Oracle found that businesses able to take advantage of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) reported that “using online infrastructure makes it easier to innovate” and “had cut their time to deploy new applications and service.” If a better enterprise data center model is more innovative and faster, perhaps it doesn’t really matter where the center is?
Keep Security Sacrosanct - As always in tech today, the final word must go to security. Few businesses today will have the means to own and manage their own mega centers, which means investing in top security talent to closely monitor, and manage all data and software service providers will be essential to IT’s strength and success at this time of data center evolution.
While many factors and culprits have changed the data center of old, the opportunities are tremendous for IT organizations ready to focus on the powers and capabilities of new data center and infrastructure models. The physical center of data operations may be shifting but the heart of IT innovation remains wherever clever technologists can use their skills and tools to advance business operations, services, products, and client engagement.