According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, today’s world is creating as much content in just two days as all of civilization created from inception until 2003! Experts forecast between 20 billion and 1 trillion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. While these numbers might sound outlandish, it’s clear the Internet is becoming the underlying infrastructure for how our economy and society operate. Therefore, we must not only make data center equipment purchases for today, but also do so with an eye on the future.

We rely upon data centers and servers to power the massive amounts of technology and data needed to operate our businesses. Whether you outsource your data center hosting or do it yourself, there are some trends that companies need to carefully consider so they don’t move themselves into a dead end.
As our reliance on IT grows exponentially, here are five data center equipment trends any business should consider:

  1. Muscle to power virtualization.
    Virtualization brings key benefits to the table, some of which are both operational and financial. Most servers are underutilized – basically waiting for the few times per day or month when they are really needed to run at fully capacity. Virtualization allows many servers to run on a single piece of dedicated hardware and gives and takes resources based on each servers demand.

    To make the case more compelling, clusters or virtualized servers are able to shuffle resources around to ensure the maximum use is made from the entire pool. The risk here is when a physical server powering multiple virtual servers crashes, the impact can be more widespread and multiple business systems and processes can come to a grinding halt. To ensure the performance and reliability of these virtual environments, servers are bulking up and getting really beefy. This means multiple processes with multiple cores, dozens of gigabytes of memory and fault tolerance so everything from disk failure to power supply failure will not bring the entire system down.

  2. More of everything.
    More systems, increasing regulation requiring archiving, and greater user and business demands are driving data requirements through the roof. Servers need more storage, though adding large disks, often terabytes in size, isn’t enough to keep pace. The downtime and upgrade cycle means bigger disks in the server just aren’t enough.

    On top of that, it’s not only the size of the disk, but the raw input/output operations that can also be a bottleneck. A number of companies make storage area networks and network attached storage products. These devices are great ways to keep up with data requirements and offer excellent performance in terms of IO, expandability and redundancy.

  3. Security isn’t a nice feature - it’s a requirement.
    Security requirements and complexity are increasing so fast, only experts can keep up. What once was solved by one firewall now requires several of them, as well as intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, log analysis engines, spam filtering devices and Web application layer security.

    These devices are becoming not only nice to have, but a must-have by today’s standards. Being caught without one means you will not have enough layers of security built into your environment, allowing a simple slip-up from a missed patch or a simple mistake on a setting to compromise your environment.

  4. Energy metering and efficiency.
    Power is on everyone’s mind. Currently, data centers require about 1.5 percent of our nation’s power – and that percentage is rising. With the horsepower of today’s equipment, power and cooling demands are not just an aspect of overall environment consciousness, but real dollar savings. Regardless of your reason, power measurement and management is making its way into data centers to help us meter and manage the growing appetite for electrons.
  5. Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth. No matter how much bandwidth you think is enough, the requirements are growing so fast that we must be thinking ahead. Not only should switches and routers be capable of five to 10 times the bandwidth you need today (expandability), they should also be Internet protocol version 6 capable.

By keeping an eye on the future, data center managers will be able to make better decisions for the short and long term. And as the rates of growth and change continue to increase exponentially, it’s important to factor in this growth when making data center equipment purchases. When in doubt, the more, the merrier. It’s just a matter of time before data needs exceed available equipment.

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