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Weighing Software Solutions Against Data Center Constraints

8 Apr 2016 by Jessica Hall

Since 2000, when the first camera phone was introduced, the number of mobile users has quintupled. By 2020, there will be 5.5 billion mobile users, representing 70% of the global population,” according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index™ (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2015 to 2020). Phones are not the only thing being transformed by today's smart, connected world.

“Over the next five years, the profile, topology and purpose of data centers will change dramatically, driven by the digital world and the use of emerging technologies. Between 2013 and the end of 2014, $1 billion of new venture capital funding went into the Internet of Things (IoT), and in 2014, more than $40 billion was spent by enterprises on designing, implementing and operating the IoT (see "Drive Digital Business Using Insights From Symposium's Analyst Keynote" for more details). At the same time, there will be an increase in investment around the Nexus of Forces (cloud, social, mobile and information) as many businesses focus on growth and new opportunities,” according to Gartner’s report, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World,” published October 2015.

Besides these considerable shifts, the exhaustive models that have traditionally been used to address security have been replaced by active and changing methodologies to decrease risk in a rapidly evolving landscape.

With new demands and models, data centers are undergoing modern-day transformations, too. Software and application decisions can have a major impact on data center choices for the following reasons:

Software has its limits. We know physical software creates spatial and financial constraints. In needing to supply applications with processing and storage capabilities within your physical infrastructure, IT spending will often be dedicated to preserving and upholding core operations instead of channeling funds to innovation and business growth.

Many IT leaders are facing the growing challenge of cutting operating and capital expenditures while delivering increased resources that build on their core business. It’s difficult to reduce budgets when sizable allocations are made for the development, maintenance and improvement of company-owned data centers.

SaaS increases server capacity. A complete reliance on in-house systems is no longer the norm in modern businesses. Many companies are shifting to Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. Additionally, server capacity is moving from the enterprise to cloud service providers. In addition to freeing up space in the physical infrastructure, SaaS offerings benefit organizations by reducing costs, increasing efficiency and providing enhanced computing power.

IT professionals will still manage physical servers and internal data centers. However, with fewer servers needed internally, companies are able to consolidate their data center. Small, nimble servers are replacing those that were once needed to run large, cumbersome workloads.

Many are moving to the cloud. Complementing the modern workplace, Microsoft Azure offers analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and Web services. Unlike physical data centers, which often present constraints, Azure allows you to easily scale apps to any size and to use any language, framework or tool to build applications. This platform’s improved architecture also ensures servers and applications experience fewer delays and offer improved availability.

Physical servers can take days — even weeks — to set up internally. If you move to Azure, Jeromy Siebenaler, vice president and chief cloud architect at Insight, says that you could have a new server up and running within an hour after approvals. Most companies will only upgrade servers every five to eight years. However, cloud providers like Microsoft are making constant improvements to their platforms. These enhancements translate to improvements in efficiency, security and performance.

For these reasons, many companies are migrating to Azure — and it shows in Microsoft’s financial reports. During the first fiscal quarter of 2016, Microsoft reported that its sales of Azure increased two-fold from last year.

Looking beyond software and cloud-based solutions’ impact on data centers, Gartner’s recent report, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World,” addresses the next phase of considerations that you’ll need to address in transforming your company’s data center. This includes contemporary data center models and a matrix that will help you select the ideal infrastructure for various workloads.