Older data Centres become a strategic asset rather than a liability

Enterprise need to have a strategy regarding older data centers.

The days of a traditional enterprise-owned data centre serving as the sole location to source IT services were waning. In a newly released blog by Bob Gill research vice president Infrastructure Strategies group at Gartner.

According to Gill a growing reliance on externally provided services, from cloud providers, application hosting providers, or workloads housed in colocation centres, enterprises was likely to hold the line, or actually reduce their footprint in the enterprise data centre.

According to Gartner, by 2025, 85 per cent of infrastructure strategies will integrate on-premises, colocation, cloud and edge delivery options, compared with 20 per cent in 2020.

This is a far cry from shuttering all enterprise data centres; as not all applications are ideally placed in the cloud at this time, and constraints imposed by the “three P’s” (legacy, latency, and legal) maintain the relevance and value of an on-prem estate.

According to Gill questions naturally arise, “what do we do with our data centers?”  “Should we continue to update them?”  “How should we plan for this?”

“In his research note titled “How to Turn Old Data Centers Into Critical IT Assets”, David Cappuccio addresses the enterprise need to have a strategy regarding older data centers, and argues that they can, and at times should be updated to support new and emerging business services while reducing operating costs,” wrote Gill.  “Given that a percentage of applications will remain “on-prem” for the foreseeable future, it turns out that a wave of optimization can improve efficiency and operations to an extent that it is worth at least one more cycle of updates and upgrades.”

Gill notes Cappuccio described three practices I&O leaders should consider, namely enhancing delivery, maximizing space, and reinventing the fundamentals of data center design. Enhancing delivery describes using such designs as self-contained rack clusters to introduce more efficient sub-units of highly dense data centre footprint, with their own self-contained power and cooling infrastructure.

“Maximising space focuses on such techniques as hot aisle containment to improve efficiency and free up additional space,” wrote Gill. “Lastly, reinvention tackles the status quo though the use of new technologies such as rear door heat exchangers and liquid cooling to increase density while reducing the power requirements of cooling IT loads.”

In short, they are all about increasing efficiency in a modular fashion, allowing for incremental upgrades rather than a very costly complete overhaul.  Bringing modern technology and design patterns to incrementally improve the data center’s ability to handle new and emerging workloads can not only save money, but help to avoid building new data centers by increasing the capacity of the old ones.

Maintaining and updating traditional data centers is not seen as the primary role of IT. IT leaders are looking to workload placement based on business outcomes as a key success factor and, as such, the physical management of data centers becomes the role of colocation, hosting and cloud providers, not necessarily traditional IT, and facilities teams.
This is not about moving everything to the cloud or the edge, rather about changing the focus on how IT delivers value to the business. Infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders face a daunting challenge. The IT they have known for decades is changing — radically. IT’s primary function will be to enable the business to be more agile, enter new markets more quickly, deliver services closer to the customer and position specific workloads based on business, regulatory and geopolitical impacts. The role of the traditional data center will be relegated to that of a legacy holding area, dedicated to very specific services that cannot be supported elsewhere, or supporting those systems that are most economically efficient on-premises.
As interconnected services, cloud providers, distributed cloud, edge services and SaaS offerings continue to proliferate, the rationale to stay only in a traditional data center topology will have limited advantages. This is not an overnight shift, but an evolutionary change in thinking how we deliver services to our customers and to the business. This trend, coupled with the new reality that outside factors might limit physical access to the data center (such as emergency quarantine), is driving new thinking in infrastructure planning.
  • Invest in the technologies needed to discover and manage a hybrid IT model so I&O can have more proactive and business-relevant insight because, over the long term, this is not about transforming the infrastructure. It’s about transforming how I&O is providing value in a digitally distributed ecosystem. In this new hybrid world, the I&O role is migrating toward integration and operations.
  • Redefine supporting tools to better align with changing demands as the role and value proposition of ITOM changes in support of digital infrastructures. These changes are typically driven by functional groups that focus on managing customer experience quality, automating the provisioning and configuration of resources, or analyzing the performance of technology resources — wherever they are (see “IT Operations Management 2020: Shift to Succeed”).



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