I recently sat through a Gartner presentation “Automation: The Linchpin for Cloud and Data Centers” where I believe they hit upon something profound. “Future Data Centers are built for Change, Not Built to Last”. I’ve brought this up with a few large enterprise business leaders and positioned it in this way; if there was a disaster and your entire data center was lost including all applications, how would you design your new data center? Most when hit with this question sit back, smile, and dream of the possibilities.
To address this, we can look at the start-up market for inspiration. Most new companies today are completely in the cloud. They’ve outsourced infrastructure to public cloud providers. They don’t want to be in the infrastructure business, they want to be in the “thing that creates revenue” business. As they have grown into mid size businesses, they are now looking at the migration to hosted private clouds to gain the feeling of greater security and operate in more of a hybrid mode.
Large Enterprises for right or wrong, need their infrastructure; how they would approach building out a new infrastructure however would be vastly different. Gone would be many of the monolithic compute structures, in would be a more flexible, automated, and open standards environment with application built for cloud (i.e. built on the premise that infrastructure fails but the application must live on). They would build a more organic, flexible, automated environment that allows for change. They would deliver services-centric IT.
So, how can we detach ourselves from our infrastructure of today? The answer is typically, we can’t; at least not immediately. But we can plan for a future that is built upon these principles. To achieve this, we have to adopt design platforms, development applications, and infrastructure that will take advantage of a more heterogeneous environment. We have to envision a future data center that was built to change, not build to last.