Datacenter Trends

'Datacenter Is Dead,' Says Gartner Analyst

What exactly will this new, nearly datacenter-less world look like? Gartner's head of research sees enterprises making a number of adaptive moves.

By 2025, 80 percent of enterprises will have shut down their traditional datacenters, according to Gartner Research Vice President Dave Cappuccio.

Those still up and running by then will be relegated to the role of legacy holding areas "dedicated to very specific services than cannot be supported elsewhere, or supporting those systems that are most economically efficient on-premises."

Cappuccio made this observation in a headline-grabbing blog post ("The Data Center is Dead") on the Gartner Blog Network last week.

It could be argued that the writing has been on the wall for the traditional datacenter since "cloud computing" entered the infotech lexicon, but it's fair to allow -- as Cappuccio does -- that this has not been an overnight shift, but rather "an evolutionary change in thinking in how we deliver services to our customers and to the business."

"As interconnect services, cloud providers, the Internet of Things (IoT), edge services and SaaS offerings continue to proliferate," he wrote, "the rationale to stay in a traditional datacenter topology will have limited advantages."

What exactly will this new, nearly datacenter-less world look like? Cappuccio sees enterprises making a number of adaptive moves. For example: Free of the constraints of physical location, organizations will base workload placement in a digital infrastructure on business need. Infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders will find themselves building ecosystems of service partners to help enable scalable, agile infrastructures. I&O leaders will leverage new tools for distributed digital infrastructure management to monitor and manage "any asset or process, anywhere, at any time, enabling a successful transition to digital business." And the increased complexity for I&O of this digital infrastructure will demand retraining of existing staff "with a focus on versatility."

"Many organizations that are developing digital infrastructure delivery strategies are wrestling with the issue of cloud adoption," Cappuccio wrote. "Successful I&O leaders are focused on business value, rather than cloud adoption, as a goal. I&O leaders are therefore beginning to build IT strategies with a focus on their application portfolio, rather than on the physical infrastructure, moving away from traditional IT- architecture-driven decisions toward a service-driven strategy."

Cappuccio's observations aren't as earth-shattering as his post's headline implies, but they are dead-on. One of my favorite sections from the post:

As enterprises move toward distributed digital infrastructures, one of the key pain points will be operational process and tools. I&O has become great at managing silos, but staffs tend to see the world from the construct of silos of servers, storage, networking, virtualization, applications and so on. In distributed environments with a hybrid mix of sourcing and architectures, the physical location of an asset (or process) will not be as clearly defined, and yet its attributes, performance, KPIs and cost will have an increasingly important impact on how I&O delivers services to end customers. Ultimately, I&O remains responsible for both the assets and the end-user experience, and will need tools to actively monitor and manage any asset or process, anywhere, at any time.

This post is a must-read for datacenter managers, but Cappuccio goes into even greater depth on this topic in a longer Gartner report (also recommended) dubbed "The Data Center Is Dead, and Digital Infrastructures Emerge."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of 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].


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