Data center transformation: What you need to know about the future of the data center

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Data center infrastructure is evolving. Public cloud services lay out the path for where it’s headed.

Everyone knows they can sign up with a public cloud service and allocate data center infrastructure, servers, and connected storage in minutes. You can also build private data center infrastructure to deliver those same resources just as quickly, though it’s simply not yet as well understood how to transform existing, legacy data center infrastructure into a private cloud.

The data center of the future will eventually become a multi-cloud architecture with public and private cloud infrastructures with a high degree of automation and orchestration across all connected clouds. In that world, the most important element will be uniform management of the multi-cloud environment.

But how does the legacy data center become as elegant and powerful to use as public cloud services are today? There’s no single right answer, but here are the elements that should be part of every data center transformation. Let’s dive right in.

Why the legacy data center no longer makes sense

If you’re wondering how data center transformation will make your life easier, you need only look at the traditional three-tier data center.

You have a server team for managing the server, a network team for managing the network, and a storage team for managing storage. These are all connected, but they are also separate infrastructures that are scaled differently and have different requirements. They also require human interaction to integrate the overall operation of the data center infrastructure.

If your organization wants to determine the best platform for its enterprise database, for example, you’ll have to physically stand up your separate systems for testing. After all that, you’ll still have to make an analysis based on a test environment instead of a production environment.

In a multi-cloud architecture, not only are you able to move workloads across different data center infrastructures (clouds), but eventually workload management won’t require any human intervention at all. Intelligent systems in your multi-cloud management solution will automatically monitor all workloads for whatever parameters you define – performance, compliance, and/or cost – and your cloud management layer will automatically handle all the infrastructure aspects of workload placement.

As a result, administration of the infrastructure will become more automated and more orchestrated. This will result in an IT organization increasing its ability to provide data center services across the board. But how do we get there?

3 steps to legacy data center transformation

To get started, you need to address three things:

  1. Set up your private cloud.

Public cloud services are tremendous solutions for rapidly deploying data center services, but organizing multiple clouds requires a central point of management. This central point should be based on a private cloud infrastructure. Not only is the private cloud the logical place for multi-cloud management, but the private cloud is required for certain workloads and data sets, which, for security reasons, can’t be placed in any public cloud provider’s infrastructure. There are two routes for transforming your legacy data center into a private cloud:

  • Do it yourself. If you’re going to build out your private data center infrastructure, you either need to hire a team or allocate your administration teams to design and build it.
  • Work with a knowledgeable systems integrator. Go to an organization with a broad understanding of these different technologies. Talk to them about your desire to transform your legacy data center within a private cloud. Ask for recommendations, including the right software, the right transformation plan, and most importantly, what should and shouldn’t be transformed.
  1. Build a DevOps culture.

One aspect of owning the data center infrastructure is owning the development. Organizations that are achieving success with their cloud strategy recognize that the most important transformation they need to make is with their people.

This begins by making a commitment to enabling an integrated set of developer and operations teams, whose goal is to enable each other’s success. The ops team works to make sure that developers have ready and easy access to data center resources, and the dev works to develop applications that are highly modular, scalable, and easy to debug. You can do this by transitioning team members as their requirements for managing the infrastructure lessen and shifting them to a software development team. In that role, they help develop and coordinate the orchestration elements of the private cloud and write the applications for this new cloud platform as well. That adds agility to react quickly to both internal and customer requests.

  1. Use the private cloud as a control center.

As data center infrastructure transforms, organizations need to understand the importance of having one uniform management layer. Some of this technology exists in the form of startups, some in the form of major software vendors, some in open-source technology. There’s a variety of solutions.

To figure out the right recipe, you need to determine your key applications moving forward and the new applications you want to deploy to find the right cloud mix and right cloud management. As with transforming your legacy data center, working with an experienced partner means you measure twice and cut once when it comes to the transition.

The biggest disruption to data center infrastructure in history is happening now

We’re experiencing the greatest transformation of the data center ever. We’re moving toward a future where data center infrastructures will be virtually zero-touch administration. Organizations that have distanced themselves from their infrastructure are at a disadvantage. The bottom line is that we live in an era where mistakes are not only instantly seen but magnified 10-fold.

The data center transformation is here, and, in this age of societal digital transformation, these data center architectural decisions have a direct impact on an organization’s ability to build a business. It’s time to take advantage of it.

To learn more about what multi-cloud management infrastructure is right for you, contact your SHI account executive today.

About the blogger

Jason Lamb is a Cloud Solution Architect at Intel with over 30 years of enterprise data center infrastructure experience. In his role, he advises Intel’s end-user customers, partners, ISVs, and OEMs on best practices for developing cloud and cloud management strategies and architecting and designing data center modernization blueprints with software defined infrastructure projects.