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Gartner's key datacentre technologies for the future

Simon Sharwood

Gartner Analysts Phil Sargeant and Matthew Boon have ranked virtualisation as an essential data centre technology, but one that has plenty of use left and will soon spread to storage and client computing.

"We see broad opportunity for virtualisation," Boon said during the keynote address of the firm's Gartner's Infrastructure, Operations and Data Centre Summit. "We think it has big implications for IT operations. [But] It is important to consider what are you trying to achieve," as virtualisation can deliver several outcomes including lower operational costs, better green performance and elasticity to improve customer experiences.

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Boon added that virtualisaiton is not just an enterprise play, as small to medium businesses are also using it.

Organisations adopting virtualisation will, Boon said, find their infrastructure purchasing habits change as software vendors emerge, especially in systems management.

While acknowledgin that VMWare and Microsoft lead the market, Boon urged delegates to consider Citrix's offerings as he feels it is dangerous to align with a single virtualisation vendor.

"The market is changing so rapidly you need access to innovation, so keep a bit of an open mind in terms of the vendors you are dealing with."

Information overload is another data centre trend Boon said organisations will struggle to address, thanks to poor storage management."Organisations have very, very low utilisation rates in their storage. They have a lot of storage that is sitting idle." Boon added that Gartner expects 40 exabytes of data to be created in the next five years and that while the cost of storage is falling, the cost of managing data is not. He therefore expects storage vendors to focus more on management and warned users to increase the attention they pay to storage.

"Now is the time to look much more closely at storage. In the past you would look at servers first, but with this explosion in storage it is important to look at storage which is becoming a more and more critical part of data centre infrastructure."

Sargeant added that Green IT cannot be ignored, as organisations contemplate rising energy costs and looming regulation of energy consumption.

"I have spoken to board members who ask about the efficiency of their data centres, so data centre professionals should expect to be asked about this."

Resource tracking software will likely become an important tool in this environment," Sargeant said. "This is an area that is starting right now and you should get on board."

Unified Communications adoption will also surge, Sargeant said, as smaller organisations adopt it and take the technology beyond its current home in larger enterprises.

Mobility is another trend CIOs will need to consider, as it will create demand for new servers.

Some of those servers may need to be deployed in dense configurations, but users should not expect density to create savings as servers will often consume their purchase price in electricity within three years. Holistic data centre design considerations will therefore become increasingly important, especially as multi-core CPUs become denser and consume more power.

Measuring energy consumption, sometimes down to application level, is therefore something CIOs will be asked to do more often in future.
Cloud computing, Sargeant said, will largely be adopted by smaller businesses as enterprises continue to rely on in-house skills and tools.

Security concerns will also keep larger businesses from adopting the cloud. But private clouds will be "very attractive to organisations and this is where most of the investment will be. Organisations are virtualising and automating and moving to private clouds."