How the evolution of data centres is changing the role of the CIO

Data centres have played a crucial role in the IT industry’s on-going efforts to cut costs and optimise service delivery. And with the latest figures from IT research firm Gartner showing that data centre spending will reach £94 billion in 2015 – and then nearly double by 2020 – they are now a vital consideration for every business and their CIO.

It was only a few years ago that figures within the industry were predicting the end for the data centre. And with data growth, the cost of power, old estates and a distinct lack of focus, it wasn’t such a far-fetched prediction. But now data centres are once again seen as a key tool with the changing face of IT infrastructure, evolution of the cloud, and the move to outsourced offerings.

Since the turn of the millennium, data centres have continued to evolve and change at a significant rate. They are no longer just a way to store and share information. In fact, the data centres of today utilise a raft of innovative technologies that help them to maximise every square inch of space available.

>See also: The top five CIO challenges

But how does the ever-changing data centre affect the role of the CIO?

The rise of cloud computing and virtualisation has had a huge impact on their data centre strategies and has even changed the role of the CIO itself – from a more restricted position of command and control to a free and expansive role that requires more vision and inspiration.

As a CIO you must continue to evolve or risk being left behind. For an organisation to remain responsive, their CIO has to become embedded within the business to ensure the agility and flexibility of systems that can cope with any fluctuations in the industry, or within their own organisation.

CIOs must also overcome the issue of finding a data centre that offers the required capacity, resilience and flexibility. But in reality, the role of IT infrastructure hasn’t really changed and it remains still absolutely vital.

With so many new digital technologies to contend with, however, CIOs iare working in an environment that is hard to predict. But, if they are concerned by the rate of change or their business is unable to cope, then it’s high time they sorted out their IT infrastructure or they won’t stand a chance.

This new pressure on a business’s IT infrastructure is due to the changing demands of the industry. Nowadays, CIOs need to get far more from their IT systems. Cost-effectiveness and security are much sought-after benefits but IT is now required to also be more versatile and dynamic.

If the infrastructure also offers scalability and can quickly adapt to new opportunities and threats – then CIOs have got a great platform to work on.

The value of data has never been higher and businesses are now recognising that virtual assets are perhaps more valuable than physical ones. Data storage should enable continuity, integrity and security, and it is the CIO’s responsibility to ensure all company information is both accessible and safe, even when the unexpected occurs.

So it’s clear to see how the CIO must adapt, but how has the data centre changed? And perhaps more importantly, how will it change in the future?

While those early data centres comprised vast buildings storing huge mainframe computers – and the cooling units to keep them running – the modern data centre can literally pack in thousands of ultra-thin servers, terabytes of disk storage, and dense equipment. As a result, power cost and heat is a major concern and rising energy prices are eating ever more into shrinking IT budgets.

Early data centres also only served a single company – there is growing trend to for shared infrastructures that will help to drive down costs and enhancing operational efficiency. In line with the changing economy, data centres cost more to use due to the increase in property prices and the value of land. New data centres are more power efficient and in the long term everyone will be faced with some challenges around power.

So if a CIO is paying more for their data centre then surely they can demand more from it. As with IT infrastructure, the modern data centre must be flexible, scalable and dynamic – and the CIO has every right to demand all that and more.

>See also: The 4 new roles of the CIO

Evolution is everything in technology. As businesses change so will their digital needs and there is no such thing as ‘one-size-fits-all’. For every business there will be a different approach, and this will also continually change as the business grows and develops. What happens next is always up for debate, but it’s important that the CIO chooses an adaptable data centre whose service offering can grow alongside their business.

It’s now a prerequisite that the data centre is both flexible and agile, whilst also offering cost-effectiveness. As well as being at the heart of the organisation’s strategy, the modern data centre must also provide a focal point for customers, partners and suppliers to come together to communicate, evolve and grow.

The rise and rise of cloud computing, smartphones, social networking and big data have changed the way businesses think, but there is always going to be a new technology, trend or opportunity just around the corner. To survive and thrive in this digital world, CIOs must evolve and adapt their data centre services to ensure their company is at the centre of the next technology, trend or opportunity.


Sourced from Ashley Sterland, The Change Organisation

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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