Ten things you won't find in your datacentre in 2010

Summary:Despite vendor hype, some much-vaunted developments will be conspicuously absent from the immediate future, says Manek Dubash

The next 12 months may hold great promise, but certain much trumpeted developments are unlikely to materialise in the short term, says Manek Dubash.

A few years ago, the datacentre was a relatively static place. You ran your company business processes there and the servers and applications, one per server, stayed where they were put for years.

No longer. The datacentre is a dynamic environment, so that in a modern facility the datacentre manager will not know where an application is running. But while the datacentre of tomorrow will look different from today's rack-filled halls, a number of things will not change. Despite technology apostles full of the joys of new kit, here are 10 things you are unlikely to see over the next 12 months.

1. A green infrastructure
Truly green means zero or negative values for carbon dioxide. That state of affairs is unlikely to occur. However, green issues have reached the top of IT and facilities managers' agendas for the potential savings they offer, as well as a combination of cultural shifts and government legislation. There is also a growing awareness of how IT helps other industries, such as logistics, to save energy.

So you can expect to see the green marketing hype subside as the issue matures, with corporate executives remaining focused on environmental goals, while the emphasis will be for IT and datacentre managers to prioritise IT efficiency. But truly green? No.

2. Unified architectures
Vendors love unified architectures. You buy all your kit from one vendor: servers, storage, networking, all in one box. There is no finger-pointing, it should be more easily manageable and could make procurement easier. HP and Cisco, together with VMware and EMC, launched such systems in 2009.

The downside is you reduce your discounting power, and your technology choices are similarly limited by those the vendor will sell you. It is called lock-in. This scenario replays the mainframe's glory days in the 1960s and 1970s, when companies left IBM for the likes of Amdahl and DEC.

And in practice, there are other hurdles.

The first is internal politics, as it threatens IT departments' specialist teams. The second is that heterogeneous environments grow up as a result of company activity over time, from changing business processes and priorities to mergers and acquisitions. Converting that environment into a single vendor-owned box would appear to be a retrograde step, and could limit flexibility. Unified architectures may take off in the future, but not in cash-strapped 2010.

3. Enough computing power
This issue links into green computing. One way of being greener is to reduce the demand for computing power, yet demand continues to rise.

Instead, pressure mounts to do more with existing equipment and software. This trend means ensuring you are not paying for more software licences than you need, extracting maximum value from corporately held information using techniques such as business analytics, and maximising resource utilisation, whether it be computing power, network throughput, or storage capacity.

More capacity can be gained via smarter features as newer CPUs reduce virtualisation overheads and energy draw, while adding security and horsepower.

Fill a datacentre with such CPUs, and they could pay for themselves, says Intel. But cramming in more servers is no longer an option, as datacentre managers struggle to get enough power into the facility. More computing power, please.

4. Single pane of glass
When it comes to management, vendors promise a single pane of glass — being able to view the whole network and infrastructure from one console. But what they offer usually extends only to their own systems or possible other systems like theirs.

In practice, the existence of separate IT department teams focused on storage, networking, datacentre and servers, not to mention specialists in databases, development and analytics and business intelligence, means a single management tool is unlikely to emerge. There is not the political will to make it happen.

Suppose it did exist. If you are the storage guy, do you really want to see all the networking and business-intelligence information? If you are in charge of database development, would you be keen to be interrupted by alerts about a virtual machine that needs more RAM? Hardly.

In practice, it is unlikely the storage team can even view all storage, unless you have just bought all the kit from the same vendor.

5. The standard cloud
Cloud computing is at the Wild West stage now. Everyone does their own thing, hoping to beat the next guy, and there are few standards.

Yet if the financial director and the chief information officer decide the way to go is to outsource IT to a cloud provider, then helping to specify that provider will be your job. The problem is comparison. Without standards, providers use...

Topics: Tech Industry


Manek Dubash is an analyst and journalist with over 30 years experience. Focused on business technology, he observes and comments on enterprise infrastructure issues for a range of industry-influential websites. His work has appeared in national newspapers as well as specialist technology journals and websites. He has also held senior pos... Full Bio

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