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March 22, 2018

State of the Data Center - Tides are Shifting

Full credit for one survey goes to AFCOM and Data Center Institute.   A link to their site can be found at www.afcom.com and from there, you can learn more about the exciting work the Data Center Institute is doing in support of vendor-neutral trends in the industry.  The topics below are based partly on this study and also other available studies in the industry. 

Surprise 1 - the majority of respondents in the AFCOM/DCI survey said that they will be adding capacity to their own data centers.  This is a far cry from "everyone is going colo."  While colos play an integral part in the data center space, they have gotten the lion's share of attention as THE place to house company data.  The truth remains that many enterprises use a hybrid model, of some in-house, some colo and some cloud facilities.  The new tax laws set to take place in 2019 may have an impact on colos as the OPEX benefit is no longer the attraction it used to be.  In short, the full amount of the lease must now be shown on a company's balance sheet.  No ramp up periods are allowed.  The government accounting office estimates 3 trillion in undisclosed debt due to the way the reporting happens today.  This alone may drive more attention to enterprise-owned data centers as on-prem data centers also realize depreciation offsets that are not available when someone else (the colo) owns the equipment.  

Surprise 2 - DCIM is not getting the traction that some folks would have expected and some folks predicted.  Across the board, when one examines the predictions, barriers to adoption and other market indicators, DCIM is not always the answer.  A few things stand out in the barrier to adoption category.  One, there isn't a quick and painless solution for implementing DCIM.  Even if a company has full documentation of their data center, in most cases, that work will have to be redone in the DCIM package.  In large data centers, this is a significant amount of time.  Barrier 2 lies in the fact that some DCIM packages are far to complex for the needs of the DC.   Suppose a company went down the route of managed power long ago, their DCIM needs will be different than a company with no start.  Barrier 3 lies in the fact that most colocation facilities have this monitoring themselves, and it is therefore not needed across an individual company's space.  Barrier 4 lies in software-defined technologies that put resources in "virtual" locations, so the need to manage at the cabinet level turns to tasks that are for implementation and decommissioning only, as the assets themselves don't move any-more.

Surprise 3 - Cloud isn't the end all be all that people expect.  Personally, I believe that this lies in part to the fact that end users have had mixed luck with cloud services, most importantly personal email accounts. When the cloud providers give the same experience to the individual that they do for companies, then public cloud applications will receive a better reception.   Another barrier to full public cloud adoption is security.  Quite frankly, every company has some "secret sauce" or other information that they would never place in a public cloud where they had to relinquish control of security.  Hybrid cloud platforms are here to stay. 

Not a Surprise 4 - There is a critical shortage of IT personnel, and this trend is not getting better.  There is also an inequality of women in IT proportionate to men, and even more of a divide at the top.  I have spoken on several panels of women in the industry.  The greatest advocates seem to be fathers. But no clear solution has ever emerged as "the" solution.  We need to attract talent at a far younger age.  High school and college are not the right time to foster an interest STEM or STEAM careers.  Further, trade schools fell out of favor, and as such, many of the two-year programs went by the wayside with it.  There are many organizations that are beginning to have data centers as career paths, buts they are few and far between.  Certifications are one way to launch a career in IT or data centers, but companies need to begin to recognize and hire those without 4 year or master's degrees into their IT departments for these to be effective.  We are certainly missing out on some highly technical and able people as their resumes get passed over for not meeting an education requirement because they were busy working instead of being in school.  

Not a Surprise 5 - Consolidation is a continuing trend in IT.  It seems that every 5 years or so, we go from a myriad of options to a few.  That trend will continue and new companies will continue to sprout around new technologies and solutions to everyday problems.  Our hats off to everyone that contributes to the industry in all capacities.  The tools we have available today to support our data needs are vast!  We look forward to seeing where things go next year!

 


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