Datacenter Trends To Watch in 2016
The growth of flash storage and tighter security precautions are just some of the trends that will continue this year.
- By John K. Waters
Datacenter managers have been, to paraphrase that apocryphal curse so often attributed to the Chinese, living in interesting times. Demands to do more with less and a range of evolving requirements made 2015 very "interesting" indeed. Many of the trends identified by industry watchers last year will continue to impact the datacenter in 2016. Here are a few to watch in the coming year.
Hyperconvergence has been evolving from niche market to significant trend since 2011, and 2016 is the year the concept is likely to take off. More and more enterprises are recognizing the potential value of a software-centric datacenter architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualization. Eliminating barriers between server, storage and networking resources promises faster deployment, simpler management and operations, cost savings and greater elasticity and scalability, so it has become a priority in many organizations. But perhaps more importantly, a growing number of vendors are offering some kind of hyperconvergence solution, and the established players are maturing their offerings.
The use of flash in the datacenter has been on the rise in recent years. According to one estimate, worldwide sales in the flash-array market grew to more than $11 billion in 2014, and then grew by 101 percent year-over-year in Q2 of 2015. In the coming year, expect to see flash capacities larger than disk drives, and watch for big price cuts from large enterprise storage companies. Ultimately, it will be the cost savings of flash management that will drive adoption. But there's an added bonus for datacenter professionals: the simplified performance tuning that flash offers and the elimination of disk drive failures should make life easier.
High-profile security breaches of the past few years have made it clear that traditional perimeter security technologies focused on "north-south" traffic -- firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention solutions, etc. -- can't protect a datacenter buzzing with internal "east-west" traffic. By some estimates, three-quarters of datacenter traffic today is east-west. Enter microsegmentation, a security architecture that divides the datacenter into smaller, protected zone. Essentially, every VM gets its own firewall, creating a zero-trust network within the datacenter. In the coming year, expect the market to move beyond early generation solutions thanks to lively competition among vendors, which could turn all the talk about this security strategy into reality.
The evolution of affordable enterprise cloud services has made it more and more difficult for companies to justify the cost of managing on-prem datacenters. Public cloud services also allow enterprises to deliver content and services provided by outward-facing applications from datacenters closer to their customers. And yet many organizations are still reluctant to rely on public clouds, largely, it seems, because of concerns about security, but also performance. Consequently, a current trend -- enterprises using highly connected colocation datacenters -- will continue in 2016, and possibly accelerate as datacenter providers compete for this business. In fact, industry watchers at MarketsandMarkets predicted in a recently published report that the colocation market will grow from an estimated $25.70 billion in 2015 to $54.13 billion by 2020.
According to IDC, the Big Data market will reach $48 billion by 2019. This should not surprise datacenter pros, who are responsible today for data infrastructures that are larger by orders of magnitude than infrastructures they have dealt with in the past. This isn't much of a prediction, but things are just going to keep get bigger thanks, in no small part, to the Internet of Things. Companies are likely to look to distributed processing frameworks to address this challenge. And big data technologies are getting better and easier; expect to see significant progress toward simplification in 2016.
A well-worn buzzword in software development circles and among project managers, "agile" has been making its way into the datacenter lexicon for some time, and this trend will continue as the need to adapt to a rapidly changing IT landscape becomes a competitive differentiator. A company's ability to leverage cloud services, embrace converged architectures, and accommodate mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) has required datacenter operators to become especially light on their feet. And they will continue to need to be able to move assets quickly to reduce costs and complexity and adjust to changing customer needs.
John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS. He can be reached at [email protected].