​The data center is dead: Here's what comes next

Enterprise data centers will vanish over the next seven years. So where does all that data go?
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

The traditional enterprise data center is heading for the history books, overtaken by cloud computing, the internet of things and new requirements to get applications closer to the customers using them.

In a blog post titled 'The Data Center is Dead', Gartner Research VP Dave Cappuccio said the analyst firm expects 80 percent of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centers by 2025 -- up from just 10 percent today.

Cloud services, the IoT and other innovations mean the traditional on-premises data center will have limited advantages in future, the analyst firm said.

SEE: Special report: The future of Everything as a Service (free PDF)

"The role of the traditional data center is being relegated to that of a legacy holding area, dedicated to very specific services than cannot be supported elsewhere, or supporting those systems that are most economically efficient on-premises," he said.

Cappuccio said that computing workloads will be located depending on business need, rather than physical location, and that companies will need to build up a set of service partners to help create more flexible infrastructures. In addition, the analyst firm said, distributed digital infrastructure management will provide the tools for companies to monitor and manage any asset or process.

But the shift will also require staff to be retrained, with a focus on versatility.

CIOs are building IT strategies with a focus on their application portfolio, Cappuccio said, rather than on the physical infrastructure, and "moving away from traditional IT architecture-driven decisions toward a service-driven strategy".

According to Gartner, many organizations are wrestling with the issue of cloud adoption, but also with IoT projects, edge compute environments and an increased focus on customer experience with outward-facing applications.

SEE: Cloud v. data center decision (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

"This outward focus is causing many organizations to rethink placement of certain applications based on network latency, customer population clusters and geopolitical limitations," Cappucio said, with issues such as Europe's GDPR legislation to consider.

He added: "As digital business evolves, the need for geodiversity is evolving as well. Data location, regulatory requirements (such as GDPR) and customer requirements (such as low latency) all may drive the need for workloads to be accessible from multiple locations. A partner ecosystem that supports strong interconnection services can be a key enabler for these workloads."

Gartner is not alone in predicting big shifts ahead in the usage of data centers: earlier this year Cisco said that cloud data center traffic will represent 95 percent of total data center traffic by 2021, compared to 88 percent in 2016.

Cisco said that a small number of gigantic hyperscale data centers -- around 600 -- would hold just over half (53 percent) of all data center servers (up from 27 percent in 2016), account for 69 percent of all data center processing power (compared to 41 percent in 2016), and 65 percent of all data stored in data centers.


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