Data Centers and the Cloud

The METISfiles presented at the DatacenterWorks BICSI Conference in The Open, Tiel, on April 15. Pim Bilderbeek, Principal Analyst, wrapped up the event with a presentation on how Data Centers are changing under influence of the Cloud.

The METISfiles argues that data centers are changing from vertical application oriented infrastructure pipes to horizontally connected layers. Three horizontal layers can be defined:

  • The data center infrastructure layer, including power, cooling, cabling, and racks
  • The physical computing infrastructure layer including servers, storage, networks, and firewalls.
  • The virtual computing infrastructure layer, including virtual machines, virtual storage, and virtual networking

The building blocks within these layers are slowly coming together to form larger infrastructure blocks. In the data center infrastructure layer it is already common to see modular systems that include power, cooling, cabling and racks in a single container. In the physical computing infrastructure layer systems emerge that include servers, storage and networking in a single module, such as Cisco’s UCS. In the virtual infrastructure layer, virtual machines are becoming more portable, and automation and orchestration of virtual machines, storage and networks is becoming more common.

Modular systems are now emerging that include the data center and physical computing layer in a single system. Already Microsoft is building modular data centers based on this principle. One of the key advantages of the modular approach is that CAPEX can be more aligned with OPEX. For when demand increases a new module can easily be rolled in and hooked up.

Although integration and consolidation of the three data center layers is increasing, the interconnectivity, management, automation and orchestration of the single items is becoming more important. In the cloud, a virtual machine workload is no longer tied to a physcial location and server in the data center. This means that power and cooling need to be dynamically informed of virtual machine and workload movements in order to achieve efficiency and ultimately lower costs in power and cooling. The figure below highlights the trends discussed above.

Not all data centers will evolve the same way. We see three cloud data center types emerging:

  • The Consumer Cloud, where consumers have no privacy, no QoS, based on public cloud and SaaS, and built on custom developed hardware (for example Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
  • The Customer Cloud, where consumers pay for services and consequently have trust in their provider, get a certain level of service guarantee, based on public cloud and SaaS, and built on converged infrastructure. (for example Consumer VoIP, gaming, video, and banking)
  • The Business Cloud, where businesses get guaranteed services, compliance issues are covered, SLAs are being enforced, based on public, private, or hybrid cloud and SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS, and built on standard hardware and converged infrastructure. (for example SalesForce, WebEx, Savvis, Azure, Rackspace)

In the future, if the happy cloud scenario comes true, we even expect that a global data center grid will emerge connected by the InterCloud. New business models and companies will emerge that exchange, bill, federate, and aggregrate the clouds in this global data grid.

Below you can find the slides of the Data Centers and the Cloud presentation. The slides are embedded in this post but can also be downloaded on slideshare.

Do you have a vision on data centers and the cloud that you would like to share with us? Would you like to have The METISfiles present at your event, or for an internal company meeting? Let us know!

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About Pim Bilderbeek