Data center design is now at the heart of cloud success.
Cisco’s forecast is that, by the end of next year, 78 percent of all workload processing will take place in the cloud, and almost two-thirds of that workload will be Software-as-a-Service. The cloud has already changed the way we design and deploy applications and resources; what may be less obvious is the equally dramatic effect it has had on the way data centers are designed.
“Architecture” is a word often used in IT. For the most part, when we’ve talked about architecture in the past, we’ve been thinking about the way operating systems and applications were configured for best performance. Increasingly, the word is also used now to describe the physical layout of the data center. We have public clouds, private clouds, and hybrid clouds. We have shared servers, dedicated servers, and colocation. And we have equipment that shrinks even as it becomes many times more powerful, with increasing demands for redundancy and backup power – the data center that goes down without protecting its customers has betrayed those customers.
And so it comes to be that “agility” is now another word often used in IT. Our customers need to know that we are on top, not only of developments that we can already see but of developments yet to come. As the infrastructure changes, so does the OFFSITE ecosystem. Merely the question of how to improve airflow to provide more efficient cooling at lower cost has changed rack layout. Then there’s the question of where you place firewalls and how you arrange access to backup power. Laying out a data center requires an understanding of exactly how disaster recovery is going to work – not because we expect to need it, but to make it as sure as possible that we don’t.
The role of the data center architect is no longer one of simply providing enough room to expand – today, the designer has to have the clearest possible understanding, not just of how data centers work today, but of how they are going to work in two, three, four or even five years time.