It’s time to extend the data center beyond 4 walls

Cristina De Luca -

July 07, 2022

As enterprise infrastructure moves toward delivering distributed applications in the cloud, the datacenter itself is being transformed.  High application availability, the desire to convert from capital expense (CAPEX) to operating expense (OPEX), and fewer available technical resources are driving applications out of the traditional data centre. And making it imperative to transition to a hybrid model mindset, where the presence of an on-premise datacenter is no longer the primary driver of infrastructure decisions.

In other words, datacenter functions can no longer be centralized in one physical location but deployed to meet complex business requirements using cloud, datacenter, colocation, and edge deployment sites.

According to Gartner, I&O leaders are finding the datacenter more difficult to design and manage as workloads and infrastructure expand beyond traditional centralized locations. To solve complex problems, a broader view of datacenter architecture and operations must be adopted. I&O leaders must also automate the datacenter environment and acquire automation skill sets. Proper leveraging of models as a service will also ease the burden of infrastructure management by outsourcing certain responsibilities to partners.

Analysts at the consulting firm have created a set of recommendations to help you develop your datacenter in the optimal direction.

1 – Expand deployment options by integrating hybrid cloud into a holistic architectural approach for application deliveryDatacenter functions including networking, backup, compute and storage are becoming increasingly virtualized. The entire infrastructure must be viewed as a hybrid cloud IT operating model for planning and management purposes. This means no longer being viewed as individual components at the domain level, but strategically at the system level.

Starting from a macro view of the enterprise, the overall systems architecture should be designed with flexibility and scalability in mind so that it can support the ever-changing needs of end-users and applications. Flexibility, simplicity, and manageability will be key attributes for system design in a distributed environment.

2 – Deploy core datacenter functions using “as-a-Service” models – as-a-service models have broken the traditional purchase/depreciation lifecycle. Organizations can now purchase only what they need for the period of time they need it and avoid the capital expense of owning the infrastructure and disposing of it at the end of its useful life. The cloud-as-a-service model is more flexible because it is software-driven in a multi-tenant environment. On-premise services are somewhat limited by contract length and single-tenant hardware deployment, even when considering the availability of intermittent capacity.

The ability to rapidly increase or decrease resources to meet usage demand per economy is important because of the challenges of positive or negative growth and capacity planning inherent in the distributed model. The CAPEX model is too rigid and therefore inadequate for the modern “on-demand” needs of developers and end-users.

Many organizations do not have the skill sets or internal resources to manage their infrastructure through a refresh cycle and redesign process. Others simply do not want to manage their infrastructure because it is not a core component of their business model. With as-a-service models, resource allocation or capacity expansion becomes a service request with a predetermined service level agreement (SLA), rather than a lengthy process of budgeting, design, procurement, and deployment. As-a-service models allow companies to focus on results without long-term capital commitments.

3 – Increase your ability to meet customer demand by investing in infrastructure automation skills and tools – Infrastructure automation can be accomplished through Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings deployed with vendor-supplied automation software. Automation can also be achieved through off-the-shelf software designed specifically for enterprise environments.

In both cases, routine tasks can be transferred to the software automation suite to provide operational efficiency and improved productivity, freeing your IT teams from tasks that can be completed without human intervention. 

In a recent Gartner survey, I&O leaders indicated the need for business automation in their datacenters.