“Data centers are undergoing fundamental changes as management shifts their focus to issues such as speed of deployment, manageability, scalability, efficiency and security,” said Steve Hassell, president, Data Center Solutions at Emerson Network Power. “They are seeking innovations that give them the agility they need to respond to changes both in the data center ecosystem and in the markets they serve.”

Below are the six trends that are shaping the decisions data center designers, operators and managers are making.

1.    Cloud comes of age
Cloud computing has become established in the data center ecosystem as most organizations already use some form of software-as-a-service (SaaS). Now cloud is poised to expand from that foothold and become an engine of innovation. Forward-thinking organizations are combining cloud-based services such as analytics, collaboration, and communication to better understand their customers and bring new products and services to market faster. The result is that a growing number of organizations will be managing hybrid environments in which on-premise IT resources are supplemented with strategic use of cloud and colocation services to enhance utilization, resiliency and flexibility.  For their part, cloud providers must demonstrate the ability to scale quickly while consistently meeting service level agreements, in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment. Cloud providers will drive innovation in the industry as they adopt technologies and practices that achieve high reliability at the lowest possible cost.

2.    Integration extends its reach
Integrated systems were developed to help organizations deploy and scale applications faster while reducing risk and total costs. With rapid changes in many markets being driven by innovation, digitization and mobility, the need for speed that integration and convergence delivers is greater than ever. As a result, integration and convergence has expanded beyond the IT stack to the systems that support that stack. Most notably, data center facilities are now being designed and constructed from integrated, prefabricated modules. This new approach to facility development has enabled organizations, such as Facebook, to develop fully customized, high performance data centers in 30 percent less time than it took using traditional construction processes. Combining the attributes of fast deployment, inherent scalability and excellent performance, this approach is becoming an attractive alternative for supporting additional IT capacity.

3.    Convergence goes macro
Technology systems aren’t the only things experiencing a convergence. The telecommunications and IT industries are moving closer together as voice and data services are now routinely consumed on the same device. In fact, more than half of the participants in the Data Center 2025 project predicted that at least 60 percent of telecommunications network facilities will be data centers by 2025, and 79 percent expect at least half of telecommunications companies to make colocation facilities part of their networks. This convergence will drive more standardization in the technologies used to support voice and data services and break down the silos that have traditionally existed between these two critical functions.

4.    Software paves the way for more software
Virtualization marked one of the most significant trends in the data center industry in the last twenty years. The impact of this development will continue to drive change for the foreseeable future as virtualization extends beyond computing to networking and storage. One of the key challenges in this virtual revolution is going to be hardware management. Most organizations lack the visibility to manage virtual and physical systems in concert, and that gap must be closed to pave the way for the software-defined data center. Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) has emerged to fill this gap and early adopters are proving its value: data centers with DCIM recover from outages 85 percent faster than those without it, according to a 2013 study of data center outages by the Ponemon Institute.

5.    The edge gets stronger
After years of consolidation and centralization, IT organizations are turning their attention to the edge of the network to improve interactions with customers and applications. As organizations grow their use of analytics, location-based services, and personalized content, edge of network facilities will become critical in achieving competitive advantage. Capitalizing on this opportunity will require standard, intelligent and high availability infrastructure deployed close to users. Just as organizations struggled to keep pace with computing demand in the first decade of this century, enterprises that don’t address the networking issues related to the edge will find themselves unable to keep pace with the explosive growth in network traffic.

6.    Security becomes the new availability
When it comes to risk mitigation, data center managers have long had a singular focus: prevent downtime. Downtime hasn’t become any less of a risk, but a new threat has emerged in the form of cyber security. When one of the highest profile security breaches in the last 18 months was traced back to the HVAC system, data center managers and IT security specialists took notice. Increasingly, data center and facility managers will have to work with their IT security teams to audit the technology and software of data center equipment to ensure security and evaluate the security practices of the contractors and service providers that have access to that equipment.

“What we are seeing is a more holistic, intelligent and integrated approach to data center design and operation, and that is resulting in a new generation of facilities that make more effective use of capital, can respond faster to changing requirements, and that enable simpler management and more accurate forecasting,” said Hassell.

For more information on Emerson Network Power and its data center infrastructure solutions, visit www.EmersonNetworkPower.com.

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