When the weather changes, so do the winners.
In December, I had the pleasure of watching IO CEO and Product Architect, George Slessman, speak to a packed house of CIOs, enterprise architects, and other IT leaders at the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas. He spoke about the extinction of Data Center 1.0 and about how enterprise IT can capitalize on this fundamental shift in how IT services are delivered and consumed.
George opened with the macro trends: In the last three years, the number of high-speed networks in homes quadrupled. Today, there are 2.3 billion people online; in China alone, there are 298 million – and that is only a fraction of the total population there. But the most incredible growth is not in the number of human users; in the next seven years, the number of machine users online will increase seven times, to 50 billion users worldwide. By 2050, these will have increased by a factor of 1000.
What does this all mean? It means:1) Machine use of IT resources from the data center will dwarf human use. According to IDC, machine-generated data is a key driver in the growth of the world’s data – which is projected to increase 15x by 2020.The way that machines consume IT is very different than the way humans consume it; in particular, machines typically don’t need to access IT resources right here, right now; they can be queued. Minus the risk of irate consumers, data center operators can better optimize resources. That said, the huge increase in the volume of both machine and human users will continue to put pressure on all systems.
2) Enterprises realize Cloud is not all or nothing, and that due diligence matters. As Cloud matures, enterprises will become more willing to migrate. But they will have to do intensive due diligence to identify what to move to the Cloud.
3) Enterprises will move away from branded to vanity-free gear. Moving forward, we’ll see enterprises from all verticals hungry for margin improvement… and there are only so many place the enterprise can find it: one is by leveraging data analytics to work smarter, and the other is by reducing costs in the supply chain. With the rise of high-quality, vanity-free hardware, enterprises no longer need to pay a premium to get the quality they demand. Moving away from vanity-free gear means cost savings – often very significant cost savings – and it also means that enterprises aren’t locked into a particular brand’s custom system. 4) The software-defined data center is the foundation for enterprise Cloud. Enterprises with higher risk profiles – those that have a lot to lose from both a misguided cloud migration and from forgoing the benefits of a successful one– will lead the charge to the Enterprise Cloud. These leaders have already moved from a constructed infrastructure approach to a converged, manufactured approach. Bank of America, for example, has publicly announced its move toward an open, software-defined technology stack. David Reilly, Technology Infrastructure Executive at Bank of America, explains “We have to be able to grow and shrink, and our partners have to be ready to accommodate. The more we can produce through this software-defined world, the better.”
As 451 Research explains in its December 2013 report on prefabricated modular data centers, the software-defined modular data center “is ready to transform the datacenter world.” This approach, which IO pioneered years ago, converges the standardized, tested-and-certified, manufactured modular infrastructure with a data center operating system that provides Intelligent Control over all aspects of data center operations.
The way that enterprise IT responds to these four trends will not – cannot – be an evolution. It must be a revolution – a quick extinction of the old and a birth of the new. We’re witnessing the rapid extinction of the traditional raised floor data center that the enterprise owned or occupied. Rising to take its place is the software-defined data center – converged hardware and software that will address the concerns of enterprises hesitant to migrate to Cloud….delivering everything as a service… from a secure, transparent, responsive, and world-class data center platform … available anywhere… and based on open standards.
Why do we need revolution and not evolution? The traditional 1.0 data center is broken, and it can’t be fixed. Even if IT leaders can temporarily reduce cost by outsourcing or otherwise fiddling with the math, the fundamental brokenness remains. Unless a business fails, capacity needs will always grow; a traditional data center cannot respond, and the cost-exceeds-value problem will resurfaces— only worse because the stakes are higher.
The only solution is to fundamentally change the way that IT services are delivered. The wall between IT and business strategy must be torn down. The business – the end user of IT services – demands value, and it will go around IT if that’s what it takes. IT can no longer succeed by operating behind the scenes; IT must be a – if not the– key strategic driver of the business. And that means an IT stack founded on a software-defined data center. That’s the revolution. Data Center 1.0 is extinct. The SDDC is born, and with it, Enterprise Cloud.
 IDC, Digital Universe Study, December 2012.