Gartner Data Center Trends

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2012-03-28

I had a chance to attend a Gartner Local Briefing yesterday in San Francisco where I heard David Cappuccio, Research Vice President speak for two hours about data center trends for 2012 and the next couple of years.

Cappuccio threw out a number of interesting tidbits including such rules as allowing 30 square feet of floor space per rack, which includes walkways, access space, and all other space requirements. Cappuccio also said that for every 25% increase in functionality he sees an increase of 100% in complexity.To back these figures he cited the total number of configurable options in common data center equipment.

Interestingly, Cappuccio only mentioned cloud computing once or twice during the presentation although he talked at some length about the impact of tablets, mobile devices and so-called Millennial generation knowledge workers on corporate IT.

First, I’ll address the dearth of cloud references in the presentation. Without being a stodgy nay-sayer, Cappuccio instead focused on the efficiencies that compute hardware is gaining and is likely to gain between now and 2014. Citing several customer engagements on which he has consulted, Cappuccio discussed how existing data centers are being redesigned to facilitate both uptime (a hallmark value against which IT has always been measured) and energy consumption efficiency (a relatively new constraint within which IT departments are now expected to perform).

In the second half of his presentation, Cappuccio dug into some of the details that senior IT managers should consider when designing a new data center or redesigning an existing facility. He questioned the sole reliance on PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) and posited that IT managers should also look at PPE (Power to Performance Effectiveness), a term minted by Gartner that takes into account efficiency and capacity at the device level.

Finally, Cappuccio reinforced the theme that single vendor lock-in is an anathema to IT. At the same time he also said he didn’t put a lot of stock in public standards efforts aimed at combating lock-in by making it possible to move from one vendor to another. “They [public standards] take too long,” was his comment at the end of the seminar. I can’t disagree, but I do think the work of the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) is well worth looking at by IT managers who are contemplating the data center trends of the near future. You can see my coverage of the ODCA here and here.

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