Data centers have not been around all that long, but it already appears as though these environments have begun to decline, at least those that are built and maintained in traditional fashions. Cloud computing served a decisive blow to the data centers of old years ago, and continued to expand with respect to adoption and utilization, while the new era of software-defined networking has pushed the market into an entirely futuristic landscape.
Small businesses have largely benefited from the progression of data center technology, as it was always difficult for these young firms to afford the upfront costs associated with server purchases and long-term maintenance. What's more, in traditional computing frameworks, all upgrades would have to be footed by the user, and considering how quickly obsolescence comes to pass, this meant consistently having to pay a large dollar amount to keep their IT infrastructure up-to-date.
Cloud computing took many of these issues completely out of the equation, replacing them with novel service models that tended to benefit the smallest firms the most, but no doubt has had a positive impact on mid-market companies and even the largest enterprises in the world. Not only will these options tend to cost less over time - boosting corporate financial flexibility - as they will also make it far more feasible to quickly embrace novel trends, including ones such as big data, the Internet of Things and enterprise mobility.
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Companies that are still using legacy IT or other traditional data center services will need to begin plans to migrate soon, as the failure to do so could quickly leave them in a precarious position down the road. Modern technologies - and corporate purchaser and consumer demands, for that matter - are increasingly reliant upon advanced infrastructure and platforms, and the cloud will often be the best option for firms that are working to move quickly on these transformations.
Gartner recently argued that the old days of data center technology are likely numbered, and that software-defined options are going to become more common and widely adopted in the near future. Software-defined data centers are already in use among a variety of businesses, though they tend to be used for disaster recovery or another single objective rather than for the normal, everyday infrastructure that IT runs on.
However, this is set to change, as software-defined networks and data centers are generally more aligned with the types of demands that organizations have today, and more companies are expected to invest in this infrastructure before long. According to the analysts, three-quarters of the 2,000 largest enterprises in the world will likely be leveraging software-defined data centers by the end of this decade, and will rely on the flexibility allotted by these modern IT options.
"Infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders need to understand the business case, best use cases and risks of an SDDC," Dave Russell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, explained. "Due to its current immaturity, the SDDC is most appropriate for visionary organizations with advanced expertise in I&O engineering and architecture."
It should go without saying that this will be a far cry from traditional infrastructure, and that the management demands associated with SDDC are completely different from those of legacy IT. However, cloud computing providers are expected to continue playing a major role in the management and delivery of these services, as they have already been a boon to younger, smaller companies since first being introduced into the marketplace.
Still, Gartner argued that firms will need to make strides with respect to cultural and skill-based development to ensure that their staff are ready to use the solutions being deployed, and in-the-know regarding the best practices of doing so. For obvious reasons, this will need to be a matter handled by the heads of each organization beginning to invest in software-defined networks.
"I&O leaders can't just buy a ready-made SDDC from a vendor," Russell added. "First, they need to understand why they need it for the business. Second, they need to deploy, orchestrate and integrate numerous parts, probably from different vendors."
So long as small business owners are already beginning to leverage cloud services, these changes might not be all that dramatic or disruptive in the coming years. However, the time is now to get moving, as competitors might already be enjoying higher profits due to the lower volume of expenditures and higher amount of power.
"The storage infrastructure market has grown."
Earlier this month, International Data Corporation reported that the storage infrastructure market grew by 2.1 percent between the second quarter of 2014 and the same period in 2015, driven by demand for more efficient options such as those based in cloud computing environments. In the same report, the firm found that external storage sales are dropping relatively quickly now, meaning that they might begin to experience antiquation before long.
The researchers also pointed to the increasing popularity of software-defined data center infrastructure as a major cause for change in the marketplace.
"Companies are increasingly using new project initiatives and infrastructure refresh as an opportunity to deploy new storage technologies that are able to drive cost and complexity out of their existing storage resources," Eric Sheppard, IDC Storage research director, explained. "This is pushing critical investment dollars towards technologies like cloud-based storage, integrated systems, software-defined storage, and flash-optimized storage systems at the expense of traditional external arrays."
There is simply no reason for an entrepreneur to keep using traditional, expensive infrastructure today, as the cloud is readily available and managed service providers can step in to streamline deployment procedures. With the right provisioning strategies in place and the selection of the right MSP to work with, small businesses can begin to power their IT with some of the more advanced infrastructure options out there.