Will Data Centres Go the Way of the Dinosaurs?
Author: John Rudenauer
When a giant meteor slammed into Earth about sixty-six million years ago, it launched firestorms, massive earthquakes and huge waves that affected millions of living creatures.
Some argue that this was the event that did in the dinosaurs. Others argue that their demise was much more gradual. Everyone agrees, of course, that the dinosaurs did in fact disappear.
Today, we are seeing a similar debate play out over the fate of another dinosaur—this time a technological one: the enterprise data centre.
Ten years ago, being in charge of a large enterprise IT operation meant you were also in the real estate business, operating one or more climate-controlled facilities with raised floors and lots of server racks. The data centre was in its heyday.
Then along came the equivalent of a modern-day meteor hit—namely the cloud. While many organisations were initially reluctant to embrace the cloud because of security concerns, it's clear that the tide has turned. In 2018, adoption of the public cloud crossed the 90% mark for the first time according to RightScale's 2018 survey of nearly a thousand IT professionals.
All of this has led to widespread predictions of the data centre’s demise. But is this really the end or will data centres evolve and adapt to a changed IT landscape?
The reality, instead of going extinct like the dinosaurs, data centres are more likely to undergo a long burnout similar to that of mainframe computers. Mainframes were once only game in town, but were displaced by x86 processors and client-server computing. Still, decades after their heyday, billions of dollars’ worth of mainframes are still sold every year.
Data centres were once only game in town—you had to force-fit the workload to the environment. You had no other option. Now you do. Today, the IT world is not just more cloud-oriented, it's more hybridised and multimodal overall.
Instead of force-fitting the workload to the environment, an enterprise can choose the environment that can best adapt to its workload. Public cloud or private cloud, Infrastructure as a Service or Platform as a Service (IaaS/PaaS), traditional data centre or edge data centre, containers, colocation—there is no shortage of options.
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