Traditional data centres had a good and long near 20-some year run as the primary and exclusive means of being the large-scale repositories where the ever-increasing volumes of digital data that was so key to modern life were kept. It’s only in the past 5 years of so that there’s been this change to cloud-based data storage, but what a monumental and impactful shift it’s been.
Now there’s no debating the fact that cloud-based storage does come with certain drawbacks, and the security of data stored ‘up there’ is first and foremost among them. Fortunately there’s been major advances made in cyber security technology to meet the need this has created. But all in all, the good far outweighs the bad when it comes to cloud computing and cloud storage.
That said, it’s not like traditional data centres and the now more-conventional data storage means are going to become entirely obsolete anytime soon. Here at 4GoodHosting, the nature of what we do as a Canadian web hosting provider puts us in as good a position as anyone to be informed regarding this and of course we know that being both receptive of these trends and judicious about the extent to which we incorporate them is important.
Web hosting means data storage and data centres, and that’s not going to change. But cloud computing and storage trends are changing the role they play and how they’re likely to be built and configured in the future.
Let’s dig into that today.
Extensive Demises Expected
The first thing we can say about traditional data centres is that a good many of them won’t be around for much longer, or so it seems. Many are predicting that 80% of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data center by 2025, and that’s in comparison to the 10% we see today. This adoption is going along with an adopted mindset that the hybrid cloud is the foundation of digital business. Which may well be true, considering that there are estimates that the hybrid cloud market will reach $317 billion by 2022.
Looking at the Data Center Footprint
We can start by understanding that annual global IP traffic continues to rise, and is predicted to go even higher – annual global IP traffic is estimated to soar up to 3.3 zettabytes by 2021. Further, the number of traditional enterprise data centers globally has gone down considerably – well down from the 8.4 million of them there was just 3 years ago.
Despite the decline, energy usage and costs associated with it globally are pretty much staggering. In our neighbouring U.S.A., data centers devour electricity to the tune of more than 90 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, and of course that requires a LOT of energy generation. Federal agencies have instructed related parties to reduce the costs of physical data centers by 25% or more, and similar instructions have been given by the regulatory agencies here in Canada.
Ever-Greater Demands on Data Centres
This shift from the traditional physical data center to newer options comes isn’t exclusively related to cost-cutting mandates. The explosion of artificial intelligence, on-demand video streaming and IoT devices has a LOT to do with it as well. These technologies are being rapidly adopted and require substantially more power and infrastructure flexibility. With some 20 billion IoT devices currently in use around the world, massive increases to data center infrastructure and electricity consumption are needed to keep up.
With these mounting demands and the introduction of the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metrics, traditional data centers have needed to evolve. They’ve done so through more efficient cooling systems and greener, smarter construction practices for better-regulated buildings, as well as with greater energy efficiency from storage hardware. We can look at Google as a success story in this regard (despite that the fact that of course they have pockets deep enough to keep going back to the drawing board as many times as it takes) and their impressive PUE of 1.12 across all their data centers.
The Ideal Nature of a Hybrid Solution
Despite all this, enterprises are still relying heavily on public, private and hybrid clouds over data centers. That can only last so long, however, as cost and demand are driving shifts from traditional data centers to the hybrid cloud.
Hybrid, custom and multi-cloud solutions offer the most objective-focused approach to these new operating realities, with solutions that blend the capabilities and benefits of public and private cloud technology with traditional data centers. It’s a comprehensive approach that meets the cost, security and compliance needs of enterprise organizations, and there’s no way they aren’t going to be the new ‘norm’ moving forward.
Receptive to the Cutting Edge
With traditional data centers evolving for a new IT era in exactly the way they should be, the landscape is no doubt very complex. Or at least appears to be that way at this time. IT partners with data center expertise are going to be invaluable, and ones that are also able provide the necessary geo-diversity, interconnection services, tools and experience from migration to management are going to be even more integral to successful adaptations.
In addition, rationalizing public cloud workload placement and making ‘as-a-service’ offerings available to provide some measure of relief from the cost and resource pain points that organizations may run into is going to help too. Especially in instances where they are trying to implement changes using their already-overloaded internal IT staff. Building this network of partners to enable and integrate diverse platforms is just another component in the evolutionary change of the IT environment.