Staying Ahead of the Curve: Strategies to Keep in Front of Data Center Trends

22 Jul 2014 by Technology

"Late last year, Gartner released a list of 10 trends that would impact the technology sector. This is by no means the first time such a compilation had been released, nor will it be the last. The technology industry is an ever-changing environment that sees these types of patterns emerging incredibly frequently. And just as is it with any landscape, those that adapt maintain a favorable market presence. Those that fall behind the trends, however, also fall behind their competitors.

Keeping this in mind, it is now more important than ever to stay a step ahead of the trends, and therefore a step ahead in the marketplace. While this approach may seem easier said than done, there are several strategies data center operators and companies can take to maintain a leading brand position.

Data Center Trends Highlighted
Some of the most recent research from Gartner in connection with the data center industry involves the Internet of Things. The IoT is poised to shake up nearly every aspect of technology, as smart devices being connected to online networks is creating an entirely new environment altogether. In fact, Gartner predicted that by 2020, a total of 26 billion items will be a part of the IoT.

""IoT deployments will generate large quantities of data that need to be processed and analyzed in real time,"" noted Gartner research director Fabrizio Biscotti. ""Processing large quantities of IoT data in real time will increase as a proportion of workloads of data centers, leaving providers facing new security, capacity and analytics challenges.""

Overall, Gartner advised that data center owners and operators make a number of IoT preparations to be ready for the influx of new devices and associated data. These include getting ready for IoT-related challenges in data center security, consumer privacy, storage management, server technologies, the overall network and others.

""Data center managers will need to deploy more forward-looking capacity management in these areas to be able to proactively meet the business priorities associated with IoT,"" said Joe Skorupa, Gartner vice president and analyst.

The Best Ways to Stay a Step Ahead
However, as this isn't the only trend to affect data centers, forward-thinking strategies should be applied across the board in order to best address emerging patterns. CIO contributor Stephanie Overby noted that there are several proactive approaches those within the data center sector should adopt to stay ahead of the trends.

This includes making investments in the skills and training of employees. Workers cannot be expected to keep pace with new technologies and utilizations if they are not educated on the subject matter. For this reason, it is critical that data center administrators place a high priority on ongoing education and regular training sessions to ensure that their staff is the most capable they can be.

""Deploying qualified resources, investing in continuous education, and aligning service lifecycle controls for internal and external providers should become the norm, not the exception,"" noted Craig Wright, principal at Pace Harmon, an IT and outsourcing consultancy firm.

The bottom line of many of the trends impacting the data center sector is the same: a rising amount of information and network traffic to manage and maintain. Be it the IoT, big data or the increasing use of mobile devices, data centers now have a boosted level of content to deal with. For this reason, Overby said designing for high-density platforms is key. Expandable capacity should be a cornerstone of data center planning, especially when new facilities are being established.

At the same time, however, Overby pointed out that data centers must also keep in mind legacy applications that users are still leveraging. Wright noted that many older programs are still beneficial and therefore don't provide ""a compelling business reason to upgrade."" As a result, data centers must be equipped to support not only the newest technological systems, but older, still usable ones as well.

One of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve is to think like a user, Overby suggested.

""The biggest challenge is assembling and integrating all these advances into a holistic solution so it looks complete to the end user,"" Wright said. ""Exposing the end user to multiple different user experiences depending on data center location or solutions can be a major cause of business dissatisfaction with IT services.""

With this frame of mind, data center operators can place a high focus on creating a consistent end-user experience."

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