The whole set of issues that now surrounds the delivery of data centre services to the business is perhaps the greatest challenge of modern IT.
Until a few years ago, the data centre might have been seen by senior business management as very much a back-room operation. Now, business leaders are increasingly aware that the data centres that power their organisations’ IT-intensive processes are, in many instances, struggling to support growth and, in other cases, are at breaking point.
The contributing factors are well understood: power and cooling issues, a lack of space, old infrastructure, high energy consumption and waste, infrastructure management overheads… the list goes on. And on top of all that is the ever-growing demand from the business for more processing power.
Many organisations have been looking to overcome these problems through some pretty radical – but necessary – action. Some are re-architecting their existing infrastructure, others building new data centres (assuming they can find suitable locations); still others are turning to hosting partners who themselves are rapidly building those next-generation facilities.
And against that backdrop, there are overriding pressures on data centre managers: to contain costs while maintaining availability and reliability, and to work towards new requirements for greater energy efficiency.
There is also a great deal of technology emerging that makes data centres operate along much more efficient lines. In recent years, we have seen the development of sophisticated, dynamic cooling systems, more efficient power supplies, advanced management software and, of course, all manner of virtualisation technologies.
To gain a clear perspective on where the opportunities and threats lie, Information Age’s Future of the Data Centre 08 conference brought together a superb line-up of speakers – IT directors, data centre managers, analysts, consultants, vendors – who shared their expertise and experience on best practice, on innovation, and on how to address the major challenges of the modern data centre.
The scope was impressive. Delegates heard about the evolution of data centre design for much greater efficiency and about optimising the management and security of data centre operations. They were offered a showcase of the latest data centre technology and the options for data centre location – whether hosted or owned. And they engaged in debate over the reality – or oxymoron – of the ‘green data centre’ while examining how cloud computing is going to influence this core piece of business infrastructure.
What that underscored was how high the data centre had risen on the IT agenda, the business agenda and even the political agenda. And how the associated challenges will be a permanent feature of most IT agendas for the years to come.