The start of every decade new trends emerge that do more than influence opinions and behavior for a few months or years. Instead they are megatrends that fundamentally shape and mold an industry for the entire decade and influence innovation that will come in the decades to follow. Right now four such megatrends are emerging that are reshaping datacenters as a whole and are changing how hardware and software are being delivered to them.
Megatrend #1 – Centralized Infrastructure Administration. Distributed computer and system management have gone through an evolution over the last 20 – 30 years that can be typified as follows.
First the equation was essentially one computer managed by one administrator who took care of everything – application management, operating system upgrades, backups and restores, help desk support – you name it, this person did it.
But as more applications with their own servers found their way into organizations, individuals or teams that specialized in specific functions followed. Now instead of one team doing it all, there were individuals or teams dedicated to backup, database, desktop, network, server and storage administration as the complexity needed to manage this growing environment exceeded the capabilities of a single person.
But virtualization and “the Cloud” are changing all of that. As applications, desktops, network, servers and storage are consolidated and virtualized, a new equation for managing this infrastructure is emerging:
One Infrastructure Administration Team.”
Making this unique is that the specialized roles of backup, DBA, network, system or storage administrator heavily overlap in these new virtualized environments so the specialized teams are consolidated down into one. As this occurs, individuals are transitioning to becoming infrastructure administrators responsible for managing all of these respective components of the datacenter.
Megatrend #2 – Datacenter Automation. You cannot effectively manage what you cannot control, you cannot cost-effectively control what you cannot automate, and you cannot automate what you cannot virtualize.
It is this new reality that is driving automation, solution selling and simplicity of deployment for all new hardware and software coming into data centers. It is also for this reason that concepts and terms such as “appliances,” “autonomic,” “dynamic,” “self-healing,” “solutions,” “virtualization” and “visualization” are regularly used to describe new hardware and software and the features they offer.
The premise behind this shift is that the next generation of computer hardware and software will only need generalists to manage them as opposed to specialists. To achieve this new reality the deployment, management and ongoing support of these bundled hardware/software packages must be automated.
Megatrend #3 – Instant Gratification. The consumer desire for “instant gratification” has officially spilled over into the enterprise computing space. Business owners want to hear about computer hardware and software that solve today’s business problems, that can be implemented now, and are managed with the push of a button or the flick of a switch.
While business owners have arguably always wanted this ideal, vendors are delivering and packaging their hardware and software as “Backup Appliances,” “Deduplication Appliances,” “Datacenters-in-a-Box” and “Exchange Solutions” as a way to communicate that they are better positioned to meet this age old demand for instant gratification.
Megatrend #4 – A Cloudy Future. There is a general opinion that in the near term private and public clouds are emerging but longer term they will converge toward a single hybrid cloud. While this is interesting and may certainly occur, I see a much cloudier future emerging with all three cloud types forming and sticking around for some time to come.
Each of these cloud types are necessary as they address different organizational needs. In the simplest terms, a private cloud is a highly scalable solution (compute or storage or both) that sits behind a firewall, a public cloud sits outside of the firewall and a hybrid cloud transcends the public and private cloud so data can seamless move between each.
So while a convergence toward a single cloud may occur some day, the differing price points, performance and security features in private and public clouds make it unlikely that a single hybrid cloud will form yet this decade and may preclude such a cloud from ever fully taking shape.