Paul Mayne

Director of IT Strategy

The future of the Data Center as a CIO Asset

Today’s IT department is seeing the presence of a data center disappearing in more ways than one. Most desktops, laptops and smart phones are providing the services the IT user traditionally requested from IT. Almost 40% of a company’s computing power now resides outside of the data center. Data is now delivered in many more formats (remember the green bar paper that was delivered in the mornings from the IT print shop…oops, I am showing my age!). In reality, IT infrastructure does not sit in a single location anymore, or we may not even know where it lives. Computing power is distributed, more  business user information resides in personal computers, USBs and attached to emails, so how does a CIO manage (and secure) all of this?

The magic word that is used and not fully understood is virtualization. The advent of virtualization or variable allocation of resources means that services are not bound by an unchangeable location or limited parameters, they can be intelligently configured to the best needs of the process. The concepts of server virtualization which allow computing resources to be allocated as needed, based on processing demand are now being applied to the overall IT services portfolio. The boundaries of a room do not define the data center. So looking for an organization’s IT processing capability in a single room is no longer realistic.

Today, the presence of computing power outside of the traditional data center does not mean the demise of the IT department but the creation of a new frontier for managing, monitoring, securing and analyzing the information resources of a company. The increasing demand for more power and capabilities in shorter timeframe mandates that CIOs look to a different schema for delivering IT services. Just like the transition from building all of you applications to buying software to now renting it on demand, the same transformation is occurring with hardware.

We will use more computing power from centers we may never see or control in the next few years. The wide range of mobile applications now pushes the presence of IT services to a model that says information must be available in various formats, any time it is needed and with the least delay possible. These are the fundamental business drivers of cloud computing concepts that are creating Virtual Data Centers. These computing resources are sourced from multiple providers in locations that are not under your IT department’s direct control  and are usually less expensive and more reliable than before.

In short, we have to adapt to a world where computing resources will not be in places where we can see, touch and control. We simply cannot afford to build the data center big enough to meet the needs of our customers. Tomorrow we will use resources that we will have to secure, monitor, manage and configure without knowing physically where they reside or what brand of machine is used and not even worry about the temperature of the room that occupies the equipment.

This is a first in a series of commentaries on the impact of Cloud Computing.

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