A year or so ago, we published a research note that declared the “Data Center is Dead”, a decidedly controversial statement that drew attention to the shifting of IT resources from internally developed and operated, to those sourced and consumed from external sources, such as Cloud and Service providers. While Enterprise Data Centers are in fact, alive and well, we do see new enterprise data center construction slowing dramatically, and many clients expressing the now common desire to “get out of the data center business”. The COVID pandemic has accelerated this shift, as many enterprise workloads and workers were quickly deployed remotely. But if not everything can or should move to the cloud today, how do we keep the applications evolving and providing value? How do think about the Data Center? What does a service model look like?
In a recent Research Note titled “Your Data Center May Not Be Dead, but It’s Morphing”, authors Dave Cappuccio and Henrique Cecci advise us to reimagine the data center not as a place, but as collection of services and workloads placed and sourced in a variety of locations, not just “on prem”. The Data Center is Everywhere. We’ve been advising clients for several years now that formerly centralized enterprise applications are evolving to an interconnected amalgam of services, providers, and partners. In other words, the Data Center role is being served through interrelated and interconnected services, both local and remote.
For applications and data that must be “on prem”, colocation is a flexible and feature rich alternative to the traditional, capital-heavy, enterprise-owned data center. In such a distributed world, constraints such as latency can be solved by locating data and compute power closer to the generators and users of this data, as per Edge Computing. In such a heterogeneous and potentially multivendor world, standard interfaces allow for interoperability and new models for orchestration and security are critical. In this new world, workloads, services and placement where they best serve users is more relevant than a “room” or a building.
In the first Star Wars movie, Obi-Wan tells Darth Vader, “if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”. Like our Jedi hero, the Data Center doesn’t really die. It just morphs into something that persists and offers capabilities far greater than the original. Long live the “virtual data center”. Infrastructure is Everywhere.