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Datacentres: “Goodbye to all that?” Our 2021 predictions from our panel of leading experts

Five data centre trends to look out for – Vertiv

1 Utility like criticality.
The criticality of data centres as the world moved online was an enduring storyline of the COVID-19 pandemic. This wasn’t just about working from home, although that was part of it, but about supporting the digital economy in its most mission-critical forms – telemedicine and health, enhanced e-commerce, global telecommunications and mass media. Data centres have long been held to high availability standards, but the shift toward public utility-like status has crystalised the need to establish the kinds of official guardrails that have been commonplace across other utilities. This will be noticeable in two ways: high expectations for network availability will extend deep into rural and remote areas, increasing pressure on data centres to maintain connectivity even at the outer edges of their networks; and distinctions between availability and connectivity will be erased, so that protecting connections across increasingly distributed hybrid networks will become as much of a requirement as any traditional
measure of data centre uptime.

2 Digitalisation on fast forward.
COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on the workforce and the IT ecosystem supporting the new work-from-home model. Pandemic-motivated investment in IT infrastructure will continue and expand, enabling more secure, reliable and efficient remote work capabilities. Remote visibility and management will become paramount to the success of these work-from-home models. Already remote service capabilities have emerged to minimise the need for on-site service calls, and those practices are likely to continue long after the pandemic. Over time, what is done in-person rather than remotely will change as customers aim to minimise their on-site presence. This will place a premium on connectivity, remote monitoring, data analytics and artificial intelligence to make decisions.

3 Bringing large data centre capabilities to small spaces and the edge.
Today’s edge is more critical and more complex, functionally an extension of the data centre rather than the glorified IT closet of the past. Cost and complexity have prevented implementation of data centre best practices in these spaces, but that is changing. Vertiv anticipates continued focus on bringing hyperscale and enterprise-level capabilities to edge sites. This includes greater intelligence and control, an increased emphasis on availability and thermal management and more attention to energy efficiency across systems.

4 The 5G conversation turns to energy consumption and efficiency.
In this early stage of 5G planning and launches, the discussion has focused on the ultimate benefits of the technology – increased bandwidth and reduced latency – and the applications it will enable. But, as more countries begin their 5G rollouts in 2021 and early adopters start to drive breadth and scale, the focus will shift to the significant energy consumption increases brought on by 5G and strategies to deploy more efficiently and effectively. The network densification necessary to realise the promise of 5G unavoidably adds to its greater energy demands – estimated to be 3.5x more than 4G. The coming year will see greater focus on managing that significant increase in energy consumption by exploring more efficient products and practices.

5 Sustainability comes to the forefront.
As the proliferation of data centres continues and even accelerates, especially in the hyperscale space, cloud and colocation providers are facing increased scrutiny over their energy and water usage. The amplification of the climate change conversation and shifting political winds in the United States and globally will sharpen focus on the data centre industry, which accounts for approximately 1% of global energy consumption. The coming year will see a wave of innovation focused on energy efficiency across the data centre ecosystem.
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VMware VP Channel & Alliances EMEA – Scott Dodds – 27th July 2015 – Photographer: Ian Pollen (ISP Photography)

AUTOMATION

Using software automation to ‘keep the lights on’ – Scott Dodds, CEO, Ultima

Across our customer base, we’ve seen a desire to strengthen legacy infrastructure to ensure that ‘keeping the lights on’ is not the sole focus of attention and cost. By using the latest software automation technologies, businesses can create more resilient infrastructures and switch their focus to innovation and integration – the most valuable currency for any business.

Automation is a powerful vehicle for advancing the technical capabilities of workforces. We’ve already seen it simplify cloud ownership and operations, including migration, maintenance, upgrades, capacity changes, auditing, back-up and monitoring, making cloud viable for businesses of all types and sizes, with hybrid configuration the norm for mid-market and larger enterprises.

Increasingly, we are seeing a shift to container orchestration using Kubernetes as well as serverless services, enabling companies to automate deployments better and scale rapidly while controlling costs across multiple public cloud platforms.

But what’s next for automation? We’re rapidly advancing the possibility of all businesses being able to benefit from an automated datacentre, with the application of software-defined managed services and technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and machine learning. That said, in this era of remote work, datacentre is a bit of a misnomer, with an organisation’s data distributed over an infrastructure comprising on-premises, IAAS, PAAS, IOT and Edge systems.

Data management and storage need to span all these platforms and provide a blend of autonomous services and software to manage increasing amounts of data and more complex machines and infrastructures, while also generating valuable business insight and actions from that data.

Fully autonomous hybrid data centres, mixing public and private clouds, will support traditional and next-generation workloads that can be automated to be self-healing, self-managing and fully optimised. Infrastructure management software will take most actions itself with little or no need for assistance or human intervention. The possibilities for automation are never ending.

Article continued tomorrow….

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