24 november 2015

Four data centre trends for 2016

written by Marco Alink

The end of another year is almost upon us and now is an ideal time to look ahead to the future. I have identified four trends I expect to play a major part in the data centre sector in 2016.

Data and applications will be moved to external clouds

Due to the rise of cloud computing, the structure and composition of data centres have been changing rapidly over the years. Data centres maintained by end-users themselves are shrinking in size and there is a continued decline in the number of applications and IT services that end-users host. Data and applications are being hosted more and more often by technological firms that use the services of commercial multi-tenant data centres. This can clearly be seen in a study conducted by Pb7 Research on behalf of the Dutch Datacenter Association. Around 43 percent of all storage capacity in the data centre market is now reserved for hosting firms, online service providers and SaaS providers and this rate is continuing to increase. By 2016 I expect half of all storage to be organised by technological firms.

Portal functionality

Data centre managers have become accustomed to controlling and adding capacity to their storage and servers remotely with the help of a web portal and a couple of mouse clicks. Data centre providers are responding to this trend and are increasingly offering this type of portal functionality. We ourselves have also recently launched this very thing. Not only can this portal be used for storage and infrastructure, it can also be used to scale up services such as arranging extra security measures. Colocation and traditional data centre infrastructures, in which data centre providers have, in a certain sense, very few extras to offer, are becoming less common. Data centre providers that continue to focus on this type of service will eventually lose out to providers that offer extra services.

Full SSD will become the norm

For several years now, the infrastructure market has been enthralled by the transition from spinning disk (HDD) to flash storage (SSD). SSD makes faster retrieval and storage of data possible, saves on power and is less susceptible to failure. However, what has been stopping a direct breakthrough until now has been the price tag. The price of a terabyte of storage space based on SSD was considerably higher than that for HDD. For that reason, hybrid storage solutions were quite popular in recent years, with SSD for Tier 1 applications and the best performance, and HDD for applications that were less crucial. However, the price of SSD has dropped considerably over the past year. I therefore expect data centre providers to be more inclined to choose full SSD storage over the coming year.

Tier 1 location becomes increasingly less relevant

In the past, virtually all applications were supported from a single data centre. This brought with it a considerable risk because if this one site were to be hit by a disaster or failure, the complete IT infrastructure would shut down. It was important to take sufficient measures to prevent disasters from happening and customers were therefore highly critical when choosing a data centre location. Nowadays, however, many data centres are connected to one another and the company is supported by multiple external clouds. As a consequence, a failure leads to less catastrophic results. Instead of choosing storage at a Tier 1 location, data is now often stored at three separate Tier 3 locations. Tier 1 locations are therefore becoming less relevant.

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