Organizations will need to change the structure and role of data centers in order to support the emerging digital world created by trends such as cloud computing, mobility and the Internet of Things, according to Gartner Inc.

"For over 40 years, data centers have pretty much been a staple of the IT ecosystem," Rakesh Kumar, managing vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "Despite changes in technology for power and cooling, and changes in the design and build of these structures, their basic function and core requirements have, by and large, remained constant.”

The changes have been centered on high levels of availability and redundancy, well-documented processes to manage change, Kumar said, but this approach is no longer appropriate for the digital world.

Gartner presented five reasons why organizations need to develop a more appropriate and modern data center strategy:

  • Make the data center behave more like a factory and a laboratory. Data centers will need to behave like theoretical factories, with production lines that can scale up to handle ever-increasing volumes of work.
  • Manage the pressure on the data center to become agile and innovative. The disruption triggered by digital business is fluid and nonstop, with the potential for innovation driving significant changes in IT service delivery. Data centers must be able to deal with these rapid changes.
  • Manage different types of risk. Data center strategies fit for the digital world must have a focus on a broad approach to risk management.
  • Make the data center part of a broader hybrid topology. Traditionally, IT spending has been through IT departments with data centers delivering IT services. But this is rapidly changing. Currently, 38% of total IT spend is outside of IT, and by 2017 it will be more than 50%. Infrastructure and operations managers must ensure that data centers can connect into a broader hybrid topology
  • Embrace new technologies in a different way. The digital world is bringing a host of new technologies that will need to be managed differently in data centers. This includes mobile devices as well as new data center hardware. 

That last bullet point likely points to converged data center hardware (servers, storage and networking) and/or the combination of commodity hardware with software-defined offerings.

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