The data centre as a living organism

The next generation of data centres will have to behave like living organisms. They will need to be flexible, modular and readily adaptable to changing IT infrastructure and economic cost models.
    
There are significant forces affecting the way IT services will be delivered during the next ten years. These include a move toward service-oriented architecture, cloud computing, business process outsourcing and large Internet data centres.
    
Here we outline some of the key findings made by Gartner about the form data centres of the future will take, and provide recommendations on ensuring that your data centre meets your business goals. The Gartner Data Center Summit, taking place on 21-23 October in Amsterdam, provides the latest research and practical insight to these issues, and the relevant sessions are also detailed below.

Analysis
The next generation of data centres will have to behave like living organisms. There are significant forces affecting the way IT services will be delivered during the next ten years. These include a move toward service-oriented architecture, cloud computing, business process outsourcing and large Internet data centres.
    
At the same time, the energy, power and cooling problems associated with high-density server and storage infrastructure continue to plague large and small data centres, and the prognosis is that the problem will increase during the next ten years.
    
There is also the problem of finding appropriate real estate and the capital to fund the new sites. In Tier one cities all over the world, demand for new data centres is high, but the capital costs are increasing dramatically. Finally, the technological design of the IT equipment that goes inside the data centres is also rapidly changing. Improvements in processor capabilities, the maturity of virtualization tools and the use of portable appliances are just some examples. These forces are colliding and are forcing companies to rethink the way data centres need to be designed, built, run and eventually decommissioned. It is also creating a symbiotic relationship between the construction of the data centre and the equipment (IT and facilities) that goes inside.
    
The implications of this relationship are profound and affect everything from design through operating the new data centre. For example, new design principles warrant that the topology of the IT server and storage equipment be the starting point, and that the physical building structure and facilities components be designed around that IT layout. This is quite different from legacy design principles.

Key Findings
Data centres will not only become more complex to design and manage, but also more flexible to operate during the next few years: Summit Keynote Session – The Data Center as a Living Organism by Rakesh Kumar, Gartner.
    
Data centres will continue to gain in importance for large users and will need to use virtualisation and dynamic workload management tools to provide a flexible and cost-effective service to users: Summit Session – Virtualization Changes Virtually Everything by Tom Bittman and Phil Dawson, Gartner.
    
New data centre designs focusing on adaptability, flexibility, growth and maintenance will become essential to delivering "cloud"-like services: Summit Keynote Session – The Future of Infrastructure and Operations: The Engine of Cloud Computing by Tom Bittman, Gartner.
    
Integration of disparate software management tools will become a major design activity for new data centres: Summit Session – Exploit the Commoditisation of IT to Reduce Costs by Brian Gammage, Gartner.

Recommendations
Design new data centres to be modular and use advanced modeling tools to assist in the design:
Summit Session ­– Build, Lease or Outsource: How Will You Acquire Your Future Data Center Space? by Scott Morrison and Claudio Da Rold, Gartner.
    
Design new data centres around holistic and integrated software management toolsets that cover build-management software tools, facilities management software, and traditional system and network management tools. Purchase integrated software management tools as part of every new or upgraded data centre project: Summit Session – A Practical Approach to Integrating Operations Management Tools, Will Cappelli, Gartner.
    
Purchase equipment (facilities, power, cooling and technology) that has strong, deep instrumentation for monitoring built in. Use this as a differentiator when making purchasing decisions: Summit Session – Storage Trends and Disruptive Technologies by Roger Cox and Valdis Filks, Gartner.
    
Develop contracts with hosting providers as a contingency against future unplanned and planned growth: Summit Session – Best Practices in IT Procurement: Negotiating Great Contracts by Stewart Buchanan, Gartner.
    
If operating large data centres, then use modeling tools, such as computational fluid dynamics, once a year to ensure that air conditioning continues to work at the optimum level: Summit Session ­– Energy-Efficient, Low-Cost, High-Performance Data centres by David Cappuccio, Gartner.

Conclusion
Data centres have been used for more than 30 years, but their design has changed little during that time. Throughout the next five years, new design, construction and operational principles must be used. Legacy monolithic data centre design principles are no longer appropriate for new modular data designs. We outline the differences and suggest that new data centres should be viewed more as flexible, evolving living organisms in a cellular structure. At the Data Center Summit, we discuss how data centres will evolve into a conceptual model of a living organism during the next few years. Users wishing to design, build or refurbish data centers and manage them well for the future use this Summit to gain an understanding of the emerging trends.

For more information
Visit www.europe.gartner.com/datacenter
Tel: +44 (0)20 8879 2430

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