The future of data centers will reply on cloud, hyper-converged infrastructure, and more powerful devices.

Posted in Network World

Updated: 5.6.2024

November 30, 2020

By Josh Fruhlinger and Zeus Kerravala

Data center architecture

Any company of significant size will likely have multiple data centers, possibly in multiple regions. This gives the organization flexibility in how it backs up its information and protects against natural and man-made disasters such as floods, storms, and terrorist threats. How the data center is architected can require some of difficult decisions because there are almost unlimited options. Some of the key considerations are:

  • Does the business require mirrored data centers?
  • How much geographic diversity is required?
  • What is the necessary time to recover in the case of an outage?
  • How much room is required for expansion?
  • Should you lease a private data center or use a co-location/managed service?
  • What are the bandwidth and power requirements?
  • Is there a preferred carrier?
  • What kind of physical security is required?

Answers to these questions can help determine how many data centers to build and where. For example, a financial services firm in Manhattan likely requires continuous operations as any outage could cost millions. The company would likely decide to build two data centers within close proximity, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, that are mirror sites of one another. An entire data center could then be shut down with no loss of operations because the company could run off just one of them.

However, a small professional-services firm may not need instant access to information and can have a primary data center in their offices and back the information up to an alternate site across the country on a nightly basis. In the event of an outage, it would start a process to recover the information but would not have the same urgency as a business that relies on real-time data for competitive advantage.

While data centers are often associated with enterprises and web-scale cloud providers, actually any size company can have a data center. For some SMBs, the data center could be a room located in their office space.

Future of the data center

The data center is far from obsolete. CBRE, one of the largest commercial real estate investment and services firms, says the North American data center market grew new capacity by 17% in 2021, much of this due to hyperscalers like AWS and Azure, as well as social media giant Meta.

Enterprises are generating more data every day, whether that’s business process data, customer data, IoT data, OT data, data from patient monitoring devices, etc. And they are looking to perform analytics on that data, either at the edge, on prem, in the cloud, or in a hybrid model. Companies might not be physically building brand new, centralized data centers, but they are modernizing their existing data center facilities and expanding their data center footprint to edge locations.

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