Mobile Devices, Cloud, Applications Driver Server Design Diversity

By Jeff Burt  |  Posted 2013-12-31 Print this article Print

And it's the growing number of major cloud service providers—like Facebook, Google and Amazon—with large, hyperscale data center environments that are aggressively looking for new technologies that will help them run and expand their operations while saving money. And if they can't find those products on the market, they're increasingly willing to develop them themselves.

Facebook several years ago began designing its own energy-efficient servers and launched the Open Compute Project to help other organizations looking for highly efficient data center hardware. Google was among the first to adopt software-defined networking and reportedly is considering designing its own server chips with the help of ARM. Google currently is Intel's fifth-largest customer.

"All of these organizations have been doing things differently than classic enterprise data centers," Jeffrey Hewitt, research vice president at Gartner, told eWEEK, noting the specific apps they run and their unique approaches to data center implementations. "When you're doing that much [computing], you're not looking to do things like they've been doing them for years."

"That combination—devices, users, applications—is sort of accelerating that change" in server design, AMD's Feldman said. "If you add in the Internet of Things … more compute is coming."

Data Center Modernization

Data center modernization has become a key priority for many enterprises that are wrestling with new workloads, security concerns, power issues and cost worries. According to a recent survey by QuinStreet Enterprise (which publishes eWEEK, among other tech news sites) and Palmer Research, 88 percent of respondents are investing in their data centers.

Twenty-seven percent said they had completed upgrading their facilities, while another 61 percent said they were making it a priority. Server virtualization, energy-efficient hardware and converged infrastructures were among the key data center technologies they are deploying, and 74 percent have deployed or are considering deploying a cloud delivery model.

Flash-based servers also are an emerging technology under consideration, according to the study, "2014 Data Center Outlook: Data Center Transformation—Where Is Your Enterprise?"

"Energy-efficient hardware provides a more cost-effective way for enterprises to meet their ever-growing power and cooling needs and is seeing increased adoption," the study authors said. "Converged infrastructure, cloud delivery and Big Data analytics are hot topics right now with heavy consideration and deployments planned for within the year. How enterprises prioritize and believe the advantages will benefit them will determine the time frame for rollout."

The QuinStreet Enterprise survey dovetails with a similar one released Dec. 3 by TheInfoPro that found that many enterprises had bought much of the hardware they needed to upgrade their data centers—in particular, x86 servers for hosting large numbers of virtual machines—and that IT administrators' attention was turning to software.

However, there is increasing interest in such hardware as solid-state disks (SSDs), both inside servers and as direct-attached storage, and converged infrastructures, which offer tightly integrated compute, storage, networking and management software. Cisco has its Unified Computing Systems (UCS) and VCE its Vblocks, while HP, Dell and IBM offer similar products. In TheInfoPro report, 49 percent of respondents said they are currently using such systems, while another 26 percent said they expect to be considering these technologies in the next two years.

"They're gaining more and more traction in the marketplace," Peter ffoulkes, research director for servers and virtualization at the TheInfoPro, told eWEEK.

Converged Systems

Such systems can reduce complexity in the data center and save organizations time and money, freeing them from the task of having to integrate the various components by themselves.


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