Will 2013 be the year we start to see traditional data centers whither away? With the rise of ever-more dense processors, cloud computing and continuing consolidation, it's very likely that data centers will start visibly shrinking and reshaping in the year ahead.
1) Big data, smaller processors: IT author and Notre Dame professor Brian Profitt, for one, sees 2013 as a watershed year for data centers. In a recent article at ReadWriteEnterprise, he says big-data software and lower-cost, ARM-based systems-on-chips are making large traditional data centers unnecessary.
Profitt observes the focus of enterprise activity is increasingly becoming more distributed, moving to “Big Data”—semi-structured or unstructured data pouring in from the Web, devices and systems—which will be managed through commodity Hadoop clusters, closer to the data sources. In addition, more powerfully packed processors will be able to handle these workloads at the edges of enterprises.
2) Cloud: Confidence is growing in cloud computing approaches. It's possible that newer applications and workloads will be assigned to public cloud providers, thus reducing the growth rate of on-premises data centers. In addition, there will be more growth in private cloud implementations. While this means data centers aren't going away anytime soon, it will also serve to reduce redundancy in many insurance organizations—there will not be a need to maintain several data centers across various business units, except for business continuity purposes.
3) Consolidation: This is a trend that has been underway for serveral years now, and continues to accelerate. Employing strategies such as cloud and virtualization, the U.S. federal government has already closed 381 of its 2,900 data centers—and intends to close 800 more by 2015. Many of the largest insurance carriers are employing similar strategies, and have already been consolidating and closing disparate centers.
It's worth mentioning that data centers aren’t going away anytime soon—they’re being reshaped, repurposed, and re-energized as new types of resources to carriers' operations. Like everything else, they’re tasked with running smarter, with smaller footprints.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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