The Changing Landscape of Enterprise Data Centers: 7 Trends to Watch For in 2020

Feb 17, 2020

Things are changing fast for enterprise data centers. Traditional setups are now feeling the impact of disruption from edge computing, cloud adoption, and innovative technologies like IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence). As a result, enterprises are beginning to weigh the options of shifting to hybrid or off-premise models in a bid to push strategic requirements to colocations or the cloud.

The Changing Landscape of Enterprise Data Centers: 7 Trends to Watch For in 2020

(Pixabay / Akela999)

Where are enterprise data centers headed in 2020, and which innovations will impact existing setups? We have identified seven data center trends that are worth considering when operating or scaling data center facilities.

1. The Rise of Hyperscale Companies Will Be Smooth

As enterprises make a shift from private server setups to cloud-based computing, hyperscale setups will play a critical role in their overall growth. Hyperscale infrastructures are constructed using basic elements, but they can be easily scaled for larger capacities. For instance, one server might have various hard drives and multiple photonic connectors. The world’s largest component suppliers are already extending their resources to meet the growing demand of hyperscale customers. This includes storage, networks, facilities, cooling, power, servers, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). Although it remains to be seen whether there will be a maximum threshold on the scope and size of these resources, at the time of this writing, they show no signs of decelerating.

2. Artificial Intelligence Will Reach the Component Level

AI was a big trend in 2019, as just about every enterprise sought to utilize machine learning to streamline their forecasts and operations. This year, we’ll see the machine learning boom move up to the device level. To give an example, neural networks device-based processing chip builder, Startup Mythic, aspires to move computing algorithms and power out of enterprise data centers and onto tablets, smartphones and various appliances. Additionally, fog computing where the network perimeter is pretty close to the processing power will have a say in the distribution of IoT, offering support to billions of sensors and devices.

3. Resiliency Planning Will Be Influenced by Climate Change Advocates

The problems linked to climate change may have a more direct impact on data center planning than what IT teams had previously anticipated. Rising floodwaters, regular storms, and other occurrences may present unexpected challenges to large data center setups. Enterprises will need to mitigate the consequences by conducing frequent assessments, with a focus on how high winds, warm temperature, and drought or flooding would affect the data center’s availability to withstand the new extremes. Planning may also require the input of telecoms, utilities, and government companies with recommendations about disaster recovery plans.

4. Open Source Will Rule the Day

Whatever the naysayers may argue, open source is the key reason behind the existence of various enterprise-level technologies. In the next few years, expect data centers’ dependence on open source to reach mass levels. In fact, even today, it’s impossible to discover a data center that isn’t using open source in some way. Before 2020 comes to an end, the impact of open source won’t be self-evident, but there will be a marked increase in setups relying on edge processing, automation, containers, and edge processing (basically innovations that are vastly open). With the domino effect of open source, Linux-based operating systems like the Ubuntu Server and RHEL will play a vital role in the cloud-facing infrastructure of enterprise data centers.

5. Colocation Will Continue to Thrive

As enterprises focus on placing assets where they are needed the most, they will begin to invest more heavily in developing their data center facilities. Handing the task of running data centers to companies that specialize in that, while concentrating on the remaining IT tasks that can be supported by in-house teams, will help IT regain its core business focus: offering a service to the enterprise. From keeping a single micro data center to a few racks inside a colocation facility, data center IT groups will reimagine what they require from the data center. Plus, line of business IT teams will likely be the driving force behind envisioning what future data centers will function like.

6. There’s No Stopping Point for Server Microprocessors

As companies incorporate new compute-intensive workloads (such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data), they require new forms of processing hardware. That’s because outdated designs of CPU-based servers often fail to support such workloads. Fortunately, GPUs (graphical processing units) are currently gaining traction, and tech giants like Google are also creating tensor processing units. New high-volume applications also have other options, like ARM-based processors. This means that if issues related to hardware performance show up, IT should be able to troubleshoot various types of microprocessors instead of just the conventional Intel-based variants.

7. 5G Will Have a Big Impact on Wireless Networking

5G is purported to be the future of wireless networking, but what many enterprises may not know is that it will have a significant impact on their data centers. We say this with confidence because 5G can accommodate 1,000x more volume and 100x more embedded components for wireless devices (with 10x improvement in battery life and 10x lower latency). All of this could result in the development of smart facilities that are heavily connected, support megawatts of capacity, and demand multiple storage systems and power distributions for functioning and energy efficiency. As 5G gradually infiltrates the data center industry, there might be some resistance surrounding complicated architectures, with some providers feeling overwhelmed about the task of becoming more responsive and open. This will require enterprises to have resiliency mechanisms in place where pilot projects become public -facing with the rollout of 5G radio networks.

These data center trends are changing the way industries work as a whole. They’ve greatly enhanced the capabilities and functions of data centers and are accelerating the transition to other advanced technologies that will be required in the future. Expect more remarkable developments to take place as the discussed technologies make their impact in the upcoming years.

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