An Increasingly Digital World

The third Gartner IODC Summit held in Mumbai had a smorgasbord of offerings for data centres and technology enthusiasts

Data centres of today represent the changing times extremely well—something that was quite apparent at Gartner’s third IT Infrastructure and Data Centre Summit held recently in Mumbai.

Addressing the keynote ‘The Intelligent Data Centre – What Will Unfold Over the Next Five Years’, Naveen Mishra, Research Director, Gartner said, “No longer just the guardian of legacy applications, future data centres will be the lynch-pin for enterprise agility and the benchmark of IT efficiency. This will not be done by repeating the past mistakes, but by taking advantage of new opportunities in mobile, massive data, cloud services and innovative technologies, designs and operational models.”

The global IT infrastructure investment is expected to be almost flat in 2014 and will be primarily driven by the hyper scale and data centre modernisation initiatives,” said Mike Harris, Research Group Vice President at Gartner.

Indian IT infrastructure is poised to be the US$2.35 billion market by 2017. The keynote looked at the data centre of the future, and outlined the steps to get there. It is no surprise that I/O is being pulled in many different directions. By 2016, 60% of the new data centres will be 40% smaller, while supporting 300% more workload. By 2020, enterprises and government will fail to protect 75% of the sensitive data and will declassify and grant public access to it. Traditional boundaries are blurring and in the context of digital era, CIOs should take the charge.

Elaborating on the intelligent data centres, Milind Govekar, Managing VP, Gartner said,  “Intelligent data centre is based on the good data and right source of data. How to turn good source of data into information, and that into knowledge and how can it be used across an organisation is the journey that an intelligent data centre will take.” Future data centres will focus on work-flow and specifically on what the work is actually doing and not where it is located. In a data centre, there are thousands of workloads and it is important to standardise those into dozens or tens from thousands. It could be compliance driven, batch driven or latency driven. Tagging becomes important here. Over next five years, the workload is not going to be static, as it will move across the globe, country and region. Thus, data centre will be built not to last, but for change.

Top investment areas
Gartner IODC threw light on the top technology investments in 2014 that will be made by organisations. Topping the chart were IT operations management tools like DCIM and network virtualisation. This in turn, will also have a big impact on the computing power and will need the floor space.

As per the keynote, enterprise networking will be the biggest segment, with revenue expected to touch US$887 million in 2014. Data centre consolidation and virtualisation, along with cloud and mobility will be the key trends influencing network purchases.

CIOs had a lot of queries around the futuristic data centres. One of the very common ones was —        wondering about whether the DC needs to be tier 3 or 4 and which is the best architecture to have?

“One standard is not fit for all. CIOs should focus on applications instead. They should start with what sort of applications they want to put in a certain data centre,” Govekar said.

Designing the data centre
Another question that they had was, How to design facilities in the data centre? Should it be a stack or rack approach and does it have impact on energy consumption? According to Govekar, “Data centres need to be agile. But agility is not only the ability to change quickly but also safely.” There needs to be the clear categorisation of applications. There are systems of record, which is legacy where investment has been for better control and there are systems of differentiation like mobile apps. Organisations need to see what is their data centre best suited for. Lot of organisations are adopting the cloud for fast changing applications.

Big data is still very much on minds of organisations. The Summit alluded to new designations of CDOs (Chief Data Officers) and how their role will be very critical. On the topic of big data, it was mentioned that not all information requires big data approach. Big data cannot be mined in an organisation, with the current set of infrastructure. Policies need to be taken care of before initiating big data projects, so as not to cross the so-called ‘creepy’ line when it comes customer information, which might lead to serious repercussions for organisations.

Another interesting topic in connection with the demanding trend was on digital business. “Digital business has become the lingua franca of modern business, a common and unifying language around the globe,” said Partha Iyengar, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner.

“As enterprises prepare for an increasingly digital world, CIOs must learn to tap into technology expertise across organisations and business domains. In order to jump-start the digital business activity, CIOs must identify key strategy players and possessors of the technology, business expertise both inside and outside of the enterprise and launch a digital business community of practice to enrich cross-business understanding,” he added.

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