Predicting the future is full of potential pitfalls, but analysts still insist on trying to do it, even when a study of the evidence illustrates how wild some forecasts have proven to be. But back in 2012, we asked IT professionals to cast aside all thoughts of their existing data centre or computer room infrastructure and tell us what they thought the data centre of the future would look like.
For the survey report we asked 481 respondents, working in organisations of all sizes, to rate how desirable certain capabilities would be in their ideal data centre. Many of the features or capabilities that scored high for desirability are still seen as attractive today, even if quite a few of them still haven’t yet been widely delivered.
The highest ranking of these – that server, storage, networking and security specialists would work seamlessly together as an integrated Ops team – remains a work in progress for most. The same can be said for other high scorers, such as the idea that we would be taking a unified approach to managing the aforementioned data centre systems.
But a couple of the others are getting closer, namely that in-house storage would be managed dynamically within a private cloud environment, and that IT teams would have the ability to self-provision IT resources.
The accelerating need for consistent management and visibility
It is interesting that many of the things ranked as desirable in 2012 are now thought to be more urgently needed. Some are matters that have become even bigger challenges now than they were a decade ago, for example the desire to have a consistent way to manage security and data protection across in-house and hosted or cloud systems, and to have end-to-end visibility of these systems for management and troubleshooting purposes.
I should also mention that the report also asked respondents how long they thought it would be before such capabilities would become a reality. The answers ranged from “we already have these” to “never”, but large numbers calculated that quite a few of them would be common within ten years. And the current drive among vendors to create solutions running in hybrid cloud mode, with machine learning used to help automatically change things to ensure service availability, may mean that those going for ten years may not be too far off the mark.
Reading the report, I think you might agree with me that while we may have not yet constructed the data centre of the future foreseen in 2012, the industry is clearly moving in the right direction. Automation, data movement, and the use of AI/ML will all help address many of those desirable characteristics signalled a decade ago.
If you would like to gaze back in wonder at the prescience and vision of your peers (and maybe of yourself), please pick up a copy of the original report on our web site.