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Evolution of the Data Center

By Roy Illsley, Principal Analyst, Ovum

One of the major benefits associated with virtualization and cloud is its ability to accommodate a flexible approach to workload management and service availability. These technologies combined enable the ability to operate a continuum from traditional IT to newer cloud delivery approaches, known as multi-modal IT, which recognizes that within a given organization the technology used covers a wide range of delivery approaches. However, this breadth of technology comes at a price: effectively technologies like virtualization adds a layer of indirection that increases the complexity of managing the delivery of all these services, while cloud is seen as somebody else's problem as it is an area that CIOs have little visibility in to, but in reality the CIO remains accountable for. Ovum considers that 2016 represents a pivotal point in the evolution of the data center and cloud integration markets. The focus on delivering business outcomes means that CIOs are demanding greater visibility and control of all the IT assets and resources used in an enterprise. This demand will see the technologies deployed become critical to operating multi-modal IT effectively and efficiently.

The market in data center and cloud technologies is still evolving, and as such is characterized by proprietary technologies that only have a rudimentary ability to support cross-platform interoperability. The fundamental requirement of the IT resources is these are used efficiently and effectively to deliver the services needed by business when they need them.

The use and role of technology in an organization is witnessing a seismic shift, moving from a position where IT departments were the guardians of this technology to a more enabling role. The consumerization of IT is putting the control and direction of how technology is used in the hands of the users, with IT departments providing the overall governance and strategy. This transition from IT being supply-led to being demand-led will not happen without the coordinated effort of both users and IT departments. A demand-led approach does not mean a free-for-all where users decide what they want, whatever it is. Instead it is a recognition that IT should provide the appropriate technology and governance framework, and users apply the technology within that framework to:

  • Innovate in all areas of the business and recognize new markets and opportunities.
  • Improve the services delivered to customers.
  • Change the processes and operational procedures to become more agile.
  • Deliver a consistent improvement in terms of financial performance of the organization.

Transitioning from being supply-led to being demand-led involves a multi-step process, which may seem overwhelming, but can be achieved with proper planning and tools. The other aspect is that multi-modal IT will be a reality for many organizations for many years to come during this transition.

Ovum considers that in 2016 four key technologies will become more important as the data center and cloud integration market evolves to enable IT to transition to become demand-led.

The first area that will become more important is the need for more a coordinated management layer. Ovum expects to see the closer use and integration between capacity planning, capacity management, energy management, and operational analytics. The co-existence of cloud and on premise technologies is the next area of increased development in 2016. Storage and data protection will become a leading technology in demonstrating how seamless the transition between the two separate approaches can become. The third area is the change in infrastructure hardware and the role converged infrastructure is playing in providing the platform for this seamless integration between cloud and on premise. The final development in 2016 will be the maturing software defined and DevOps markets. Software defined will act as the glue that binds all these different technologies together in an operational sense, while DevOps promotes new ways of working to build a more collaborative approach to IT service delivery.

Key messages

  • The role of management technologies is pivotal to operating multi-modal IT efficiently and effectively.
  • Storage and data protection demonstrate how cloud and on premise capabilities are co-existing.
  • The role of infrastructure hardware and operating environments are acting as the bridge between the traditional IT and the newer on-demand economies.
  • The software defined market and DevOps are radically altering the operational duties and processes used by corporate IT.

About Roy Illsley
Roy Illsley is a Principal Analyst at Ovum. Roy has more than 23 years of IT experience, working for a variety of consultancy and end-user companies with experience in the defense, utilities, automotive, retail, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries. He works in the IT Solutions team and is recognized as Ovum's expert on visualization and infrastructure management. He also has experience of cloud computing, data center technologies, and IT strategy and policy.

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