Does Your Data Center Measure Up?

4 Questions to Lead You to an Improved Infrastructure

Kevin O'Connor

As we continue our foray into the IT trends and topics of 2016, some things are already pretty clear: Megatrends like the Internet of Things (IoT) and businesses’ heightened reliance on data, applications, and timely analytics are not fading away any time soon. With the spotlight now on scalable, always-available computing, IT needs to ensure that its data center strategy is primed to handle the needs of the digital enterprise.

Longstanding data center challenges around resiliency, security, and uptime are magnified in the digital age as companies – regardless of size – can’t afford costly downtime or the risk of misfiring on new revenue opportunities. According to an IDC survey, the cost of downtime associated with key business environments like Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, SAP, or industry-specific applications can run as high as $225,000 per hour for smaller businesses (between 1,000 and 4,999 employees) or up to $1.65 million per hour for larger enterprises with over 10,000 employees.

With so much at stake, IT should be asking these key questions as it re-evaluates data center strategies and sets the stage for modern digital operations:

Do we have the right storage infrastructure? The always-available enterprise is fueled by a highly diverse portfolio of applications encompassing a mix of structured and unstructured data types. A modern-day data center requires a storage infrastructure that is flexible enough to handle this variety while also delivering the performance and high availability that customers demand. Newer storage architectures are better equipped to handle the demands of realtime application architectures and the demand that the mobile-enabled user puts on that infrastructure. Mix in the impact that analytics and high volume transactions loads from IoT-enabled applications have, and you may find that the time to revamp your storage planform is here.

Have we factored in the cloud? Just as many applications are heading to the cloud, so too are many data center functions as the digital universe expands in size and scope. IT organizations need to consider cloud capabilities as part of their data center plans, for example by building out a hybrid enterprise architecture that balances the value of cloud-delivered workloads with those that can and should remain on premises. Included in this set of considerations is the impact on network and connectivity architectures and performance that can come from moving applications to locations that revue latency and increase bandwidth options and availability.

Is a software defined data center (SDDC) part of our strategy? The rise of virtualization has shifted focus and control away from physical hardware, initially for servers and eventually for storage and networking. A study by Research and Markets predicts that the SDDC market will surpass $77 billion by 2020. The SDDC is an important concept, data center experts contend, because it virtualizes, abstracts, and automates all major IT infrastructure, enabling far more flexibility and eliminating much of the complexity in configuring and making changes. As a result, the SDDC concept is critical to scale up traditional data center infrastructure seamlessly with less overhead and at lower cost. According to The Cisco Global Cloud Index, more than four-fifths (86%) of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers by 2019.

How can we make our data center green? With data center capacity in hyper-growth mode, sustainability issues have to be part of the long-term vision. Traditional data centers are power hungry and demand significant resources for cooling and other functions. Data center professionals need a plan to reduce their footprint, which could include investing in low-power microservers and solid state storage, moving workloads to modern cloud facilities with high server utilization, exploring innovative cooling technologies, and boosting airflow management, among other capabilities.

Today’s digital enterprises won’t succeed without the right data center strategy at their back. Make sure your data center measures up to 21st century performance, safety, and resiliency standards.