PEOPLE | May 25, 2017

How data centres evolve: interview with Fabio Rizzotto

IDC Italia analyses the role of data centres in the process of digital transformation

According to IDC, if companies do not renovate physical data centre ecosystems,  they may come up against a series of digital service malfunctions, given that it is precisely the  data centres that enable acceleration, rapidity, competitiveness and accessing of market targets, along with guaranteeing support for new generation workloads such as IoT, machine learning, cognitive computing and augmented reality.

Over the next two years, IDC research predicts that 30% of medium and large companies will have to deal with IT service malfunctions due to the “mismatch” between usable power and workload caused by the obsolescence gap between physical and IT infrastructures. Given the critical nature of the role played by data centres, any malfunction will result in an interruption of companies’ digital services with serious repercussions for business. Fabio Rizzotto, senior research & consulting director of IDC Italia, has thus traced the evolution of data centres.

What is the obsolescence gap in data centres? What are the risks involved?

According to IDC analyses at global and international level, over the past few years companies have accelerated the adoption of new IT paradigms such as virtualisation, IT automation, convergence, software-defined etc. but the benefits gained in this sphere risk producing not only a negligible increase in business, but also further exposing the inadequacy of synergistic approaches with the whole data centre ecosystem comprising assets, physical components, space management, power & cooling systems and so on. The pressure imposed by workloads, speed of delivery and business availability may obscure the discovery of an organic solution unless a more expansive view is taken of the data centre, which, within the transformation processes, also includes constraints linked to the physical infrastructure. The risk? An obsolescence gap within the data centre sphere between these two souls – physical and IT – which may create malfunctions and downtime in services, as confirmed by recent IDC Worldwide Datacenter Predictions 2017.

How should data centres evolve in the face of digital transformation?

Innovation and digital intelligence that is increasingly integrated into IT and physical solutions constitute the foundations for the potential vision of a data centre as a highly automated and dynamic environment. New rules for building and adaptation, dynamic and real-time operation monitoring systems (e.g. DCIM – Data Centre Infrastructure Management solutions), remote visibility, standardisation, energy optimisation, capacity planning, etc. are practices that should accompany the innovation strategies of companies and be structured as authentic business skills. While highly complex, IDC believes they form part of a strategy toward confirming the competitiveness of every company in the new digital ecosystems.

More recently, the Edge Computing paradigm has started to influence the data centre development logic; this is a concept that operates as an evolutionary path of the said data centre architectures in light of the transformation of delivery logics and the management of digital workloads (e.g. within IoT). New endpoints, new demands for low or zero latency data management, new requirements that serve to outline, among the mosaic of alternatives, that companies must evaluate between centralised and localised solutions.

Which areas most significantly point to the need for an upgrade of existing infrastructures?

Factors such as security, requirements for business continuity and disaster recovery, speed and flexibility for new digital developments are significant drivers in support of upgrading existing infrastructures.

What is the role of the cloud?

The cloud has been characterised as a key factor in enabling a fabric of architectures and services in line with the new rules of the economy. This has paved the way for diversification of the logics that in the past saw workloads oscillating predominantly between two extremes, on the one hand, internal management, on the other the logics of outsourcing to Service Providers. Both in the former and latter sphere, the cloud has already contaminated environments by respectively transforming IT and internal data centres into private logics, while at the same time eliminating outsourcing services.

In the future, it is reasonable to expect a consolidation of distributed, hybrid or diversified environments, with increasing attention being paid to the flexibility needed to enable dynamic transfers of data and processes, governed and coordinated with orchestration and management tools. Here, too, the challenge is considerable in view of, to name but a few examples, the complexities of technology, privacy and data management, interfaces and openings between proprietary and non-proprietary environments.

The cloud will therefore play an important role with and in the evolution of the data centre.

Sonia Montegiove