This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Adam Siegel, Vice President of Networks and Service Providers, vXchnge, and Michael Zody, General Manager, Northeast, Level 3
What does it take to run a smart data center?
Think about it. For many businesses, the data center is the heart of software technology—the “thing” enabling businesses to do more, efficiently expand their capabilities, and create and maintain the information necessary to run their business properly. A smart data center is needed to support the demands of future compute and application deployment models, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, platform-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, and other models on the verge of becoming mainstream. As business needs evolve, companies are demanding more from their data centers.
Are data centers up to the challenge? Can they truly become smarter and more efficient?
The Golden Dotcom Age
Many of us remember the peak of the dotcom era – a time filled with foosball tables, IPOs and innovative technology ideas brought to life by visionaries. Among those innovations: the data center.
In the 1990s, the data center was a physical structure constrained by its very walls. The amount of data a business could process and store was a reflection of how many servers it had on site. If your data center was 15 x 20 feet, you could only house as many servers as could be secured and cooled in that space: a constraint that led to the construction of bigger and bigger server rooms. But space limitations were only one hurdle. Another challenge was slow and inefficient delivery of data from the centers.
From these challenges came the formation of a new idea: what if we weren’t constrained by our physical space? What if we could move beyond the physical realm and take data storage and transport to the virtual realm?
Between 2003 to 2010, virtualized, or cloud-hosted, data centers came along, removing the barriers of the physical data center and enabling companies to share data center resources, networking and storage virtually. Physical limitations were eliminated as data centers delivered cost-effective, scalable solutions for customers. While many assumed the cloud would “kill” the data center, it’s quite the contrary. In order for cloud-based companies to improve their business, a central location to house the data is necessary for a successful implementation. By 2020, IDC found that 40 percent of data in the digital universe will be “touched” by the cloud, meaning either stored, perhaps temporarily, or processed in some way. Without the space and infrastructure of a data center, companies must use multiple hubs, which can present ongoing challenges, such as a lack of redundancy or the need to frequently update or change equipment.
In 2016, the data center has taken another step forward to provide enterprises across the country with economical points of presence. These new data centers provide access to the best services and connectivity possible from leading network service providers through an innovation known as Carrier-Neutral Edge Colocation.
Carrier-Neutral Edge Colocation
According to the Cisco Global Cloud Index, 86 percent of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers by 2019. With this rate of growth comes greater demand for high-performance data center infrastructure services with scalable, reliable, and secure IT services. Businesses are rethinking their needs and are looking for solutions that use the latest virtualization technologies in an environment they can trust. Carrier-Neutral Edge Colocation is emerging as the preferred solution.
Carrier-Neutral Edge Colocation is a sleek, streamlined, flexible approach to the data center needs of the modern enterprise. It’s more than just walls with cooling capabilites and proper power capacity. These new data centers have brought businesses to the edge, where they can serve customers locally. Carrier-Neutral Edge Colocation enables a collaborative approach—one that addresses challenges like storage, bandwidth, cost and scalability. In short, colocation providers deliver a solution that can help customers improve their business performance. Take scalability, for example. According to the IDC, by 2020, the digital universe will reach 44 trillion gigabytes of data from items such as medical implants, wearable technology, smart devices (refrigerators, phones), etc. If a data center is not properly prepared to handle its share of the digital universe, customers will experience some level of downtime, which can hurt business performance.
Years ago, people would come to data centers and they wanted to know that the data center was going to be cold and that the power would be on. Now, the conversation is quickly switching to security. As legislation surrounding personal, financial and health information continues to develop, a heavier emphasis is being placed on data center security.
Today’s security has seen a large upgrade from the past. It’s simply no longer just a sign-in sheet. For vXchnge, this means state-of-the-art, multi-stage security features, such as two-point iris recognition, archived closed circuit video, and 24x7x365 monitoring. These steps ensure that its customers’ critical IT assets remain safe at all times. Certifications in areas like physical, environmental and information security add yet another layer of protection to vXchnge’s data centers. In addition, each year, an external third party reviews vXchnge’s security controls to verify that it has implemented and demonstrated operational effectiveness in each of its 15 data center locations throughout the U.S.
Conclusion: A Smart Data Center Is the Future
Today, customers looking for a data center have plenty of options. In fact, a national survey of IT decision makers recently released by vXchnge found that 93 percent of respondents believe that software will define the smart data center of the future. We’ve emerged from the dotcom era, embraced the potential of the Cloud and recognized the business value that a smart, carrier-neutral data center can provide. With these new data centers, customers get a choice of carriers, ISPs, Internet Exchanges, Content Distribution Networks and other network services, that deliver a comprehensive communications network and an optimal end-user experience.