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January 28, 2016

How Changing Technology Expectations Are Changing the Enterprise Datacenter

Scott D. Lowe - ActualTech Media

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This post is part of a series based on the forthcoming book, ​Building a Modern Data Center​, written by Scott D. Lowe, David M. Davis and James Green of ActualTech Media in partnership with Atlantis Computing.

In the not so distant past, the most advanced technology that most people had visibility and access to was the technology at their company where they were employed. Most people were introduced to the personal computer when it arrived on the desk at their company. Most people received a pager, cell phone, or laptop, for the first time, at their company. Later, when they purchased personal technology at home (like a personal computer), it was inferior to that at their office.

Kids and Technology

Today, kids (or maybe teens) are given cell phones, tablets, and laptops when they are in elementary school (they don't even relate to the concept of a "desktop computer" very well). They are used to downloading new applications whenever they want to, storing their files "in some cloud" (not on a floppy disk), and paying for technology as they consume it (to some degree). Technology used by consumers today is moving at a faster pace than that of most corporate technology.

All the traditional perceptions and expectations of how technology is delivered and consumed have changed.

It's not just school kids and Generation Y / Millennial employees where these expectations have changed. These expectations have changed for most tech-savvy employees of any age who have begun to enjoy consuming technology in this way or who enjoy purchasing the latest smart phone, tablets, or laptops. After all, their Gmail and Facebook are available 24x7x365 so their corporate email and other applications should be as well, right?

For example, I admit — I was once an IT Manager that felt that only IT should provide devices to end users at the company, personal devices were "outlawed" and if someone did bring one, I talked to their boss about the risks and how it had to be removed from the building, immediately. Today, I believe that enterprise IT should be able to provide the corporate applications, securely, that employees need on any device that the employee wants to use — personal or corporate — and this is commonly called "BYOD" or bring your own device. Perceptions have changed for both IT organizations and employees.

So how are these expectations and perceptions changing the modern enterprise datacenter?

5 Ways that Changing Technology Expectations Are Changing the Share of the Enterprise Datacenter

As consumers consume tech that is highly available, has seemingly infinite storage, offers good performance, and gives them what they need when they need it, they expect enterprise technology to do the same. After all, enterprise technology has always been ahead of (or more recently on par with) consumer technology, right?

5 new expectations of enterprise tech, based on consumer technology are:

  1. Availability — IT consumers expect their corporate applications and email to never, ever go down
  2. Data Growth — IT consumers expect that the company wants to keep all their data, forever (the concept of deleting and purging old files is gone)
  3. Performance — IT consumers expect company applications to perform well, anywhere, and anytime
  4. Freedom of Technology Choice — IT consumers can move their applications from one company to another, as needed, in order to receive the lowest possible cost
  5. Agility — IT consumers expect to be able to access the applications the they need whenever they need them and to add new application with minutes.

These expectations from the consumer side now apply to the enterprise datacenter because consumer technology expectations are placed on enterprise technology, whether we (in enterprise IT) like it or not.

We, in enterprise IT, must also elevate our expectations and prepare our services and technology to meet the new expectations thrust upon us. So what do we need to learn and leverage in the modern enterprises datacenter?

  1. Virtualization — virtualization offers far greater efficiency and agility for companies of all sizes
  2. Software-Defined X — software defined storage, networking, and software-defined data centers offer the company and the administrator greater efficiency and agility at a higher scale than just leveraging server virtualization alone
  3. Hyperconvergence — by distributing the storage across the compute, companies can eliminate the inefficient and complex storage silo, gain management simplicity, and lower costs
  4. Cloud computing — by intelligently leveraging cloud infrastructure and storage, where needed, companies can allow internal IT to focus on ways to leverage technology at their company in order to increase profits instead of time-consuming maintenance tasks
  5. Orchestration / Automation — by automating and orchestrating common business processes, end users can get what they need faster and administrators can spend less time performing repetitive tasks / processes

All of this adds up to a more efficient and agile datacenter for the future … and that’s what our next blog post will be about – Increasing Agility in the Datacenter

SCOTT D. LOWE Contributor

​Scott is Co-Founder of ActualTech Media and serves as Senior Content Editor and Strategist. Scott is an enterprise IT veteran with close to twenty years experience in senior and CIO roles across multiple large organizations. A 2015 VMware vExpert Award winner, Scott is also a micro-analyst for Wikibon and an InformationWeek Analytics contributor.
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