I attended the 2009 IT Roadmap Conference in Atlanta, Georgia this week and sat in on the presentation by Johna Till Johnson of Nemertes Research, entitled ‚ÄúBuilding a Resilient Dynamic Data Center.‚Äù The presentation was a summary of hundreds of hours of discussions with data center operators and enterprises with data centers.
The information was summarized and presented in the framework of trends- from old to new. Of the data centers investigated, the ages were approximately 18 years old and the youngest around eight years old.
Beginning with the older sites, this vintage data center was built favoring reliability over responsiveness to change or business agility. The rate of growth within the data center was low, HVAC and power were relatively static, and there was little network infrastructure.
During the 1990‚Äôs, the there was explosive growth of faster and cheaper computing platforms. The personal computer proliferated and the computing services of the data center appeared on every desk. With the prolific availability of computing platforms, we saw an ignoring of the operational ethic normally associated with a data center. Utility closets, basements, and wiring closets suddenly were home for computers. These ‚Äúdata closets‚Äù now coexisted alongside the robust data center facility within the enterprise. The LAN and WAN also were now critical to the business.
Leading up to the turn of the century, the corporate data center tended to be purpose-built, inflexible, power hungry and over-cooled. Above the white space, computing systems were complex and layered, often simultaneously over-provisioned and underused‚Ä¶ creating capacity issues with the data center itself.
After the turn of the century, new computing and IT governance paradigms cast a light on how data centers were designed to serve the business. Users are now everywhere‚Ä¶ and quite often not at all in the vicinity of the data center. The importance of the WAN now comes to the fore and consolidation of the IT footprint gains momentum. There is recognition of the level of resiliency of the facility that needs to be aligned with the risk management posture of the enterprise. This amplifies issues of facility infrastructure design, site selection, and security. Above the white space, IT architecture increasingly adopts virtualization, providing agility, flexibility, and on-demand IT services. The exponential increase in silicon density creates urgent issues with utility costs and the ability to thermally manage the IT environment. Green initiatives and data center automation have achieved momentum and are top of mind for facility operators.
Now that we‚Äôve taken that walk down memory lane, we can look at some actionable statistics‚Ä¶ again the result of the work by Nemertes Research.
Of the firms interviewed over the years of this study, 93% are implementing virtualization technologies, and 21% of those say they‚Äôve achieved full virtualization of the O/S layer. These firms tout benefits in terms of cost savings, the ability to provision services quickly, and improvements in Disaster Recovery. Regarding those DR improvements, there has been a 74% increase in firms reporting sub-one-hour recovery. ‚ÄòNot bad at all.
When it comes to the computing platforms, blade servers account for 26% of servers (and growing), and 56% of all systems are quad core. The average memory per server is now 32GB. Storage today is 55% Fiber Channel and iSCSI accounts for 27%, but iSCSI use is growing quickly.
Fewer than 20% of the firms interviewed are using cloud-based services, but this is expected to increase significantly over the coming years.
The most concerning statistic is regarding awareness of power consumption. As many as 87% of the firms interviewed do not know what the power consumption of their IT footprint is. This could lead to interesting circumstances as these firms move toward colocation.
While the trends mentioned above are not breaking news to those in the data center world, it does set a useful context to the statistics mined by Nemertes. The consolidation of the IT footprint and the use of increasingly dense and hot computing platforms is on track to continue forward toward the planning horizon. Users will continue to be geographically diverse, increasing the dependence upon high speed WAN services. The explosive growth of data and the use of that content is accelerating at rates none of us could imagine, and portends even greater pressure on the design dimensions discussed above.