Now what if I could tell you, definitively, that data centers are rapidly becoming extinct? You know, the ones that every company invests in to house core IT equipment. To an IT practitioner this statement might border on the blasphemous. For decades standard practice for almost all companies has been to build/buy/lease space where the servers and storage that provide all applications from email to SAP reside. To make the statement that these are now rapidly going away might just seem ludicrous and quite improbable.
Let me provide a little context to the whole concept of data centers. In order to deliver operating systems, files, applications, and other services to a company, IT practitioners must rely on a number of different pieces of equipment. For example:
- Servers - the machines that do calculations
- Storage - hard disc arrays and other machines that house data and/or information
- Routers - the devices that handle the movement of data "traffic" from the data center to users and vice versa
- Switches - the equipment that handles bandwidth for data, telephones, and other functions
- Power arrays - machines that insure that electricity stays within standard parameters
- Backup - could be tape drives or banks of hard disc storage
- Air condition units - self explanatory
The foundation of business continuity, since 1990, has been anchored to a company's ability to continually provide IT services of all types. How, then, can I say that data centers are going away?
You may have guessed it by now. The future of IT services, which means fundamentally the infrastructure that serves it, is moving to the cloud. The concept of a company-owned physical data center was "marked for death" when the first software as a service (SaaS) applications appeared during the last decade.
When you really think about the importance of information technology, it is *never* about the servers, storage, or network. The importance is whether or not the app/tool/application is available on your end-use device - exactly when you need it. Given this truth, we now have a reality where whole corporations (Amazon, VMWare, Microsoft Azure, Google, IBM, Wipro) exist to provide the infrastructure that your company needs with better service and lower price. In this new reality the need to build data centers is no longer a necessity, at least for the average company.
If you had the choice to invest $5 million in one of two things, would it be:
a) New technology that can enhance your firm's reporting, business analytics, and operations (OR)
b) Constructing a building that you will then condition to host a number of depreciating servers, switches, and storage units
The future has never been more clear. Unless your company is in the business of providing data center services as its core function, the days of internally built and operated facilities are drawing to an end.