5 Data Center Infrastructure Trends to Watch in 2018
February 09, 2018

2018 looks to be a year of data center management innovation. Several of last year’s DCIM trends will likely evolve alongside disruptive technologies and market drivers that could significantly change the way you manage your data center. If you’re already ahead of the curve—keeping track of emerging trends and using Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software in your organization—then it’s an exciting time to be managing a data center.

However, even if these trends aren’t affecting your current data center management practices, it’s important to stay up to date with the technologies and other factors that could have an impact on your data center in the future. In fact, information on emerging trends can be critical to futureproofing your data centers and even your job.

What’s on the data center management software horizon for this year? Looking ahead to 2018, here are just a few data center infrastructure trends to watch, how they could complicate your data center management practices, and what you can do to tackle these trends in your own environments:

1. Edge data centers

Edge data centers are smaller, remotely located versions of their enterprise cousins and are becoming increasingly common as organizations look for efficient, cost-effective methods to process and store data closer to Tier-2 locations and other areas. For fast, low-overhead deployments, some organizations are turning to micro data centers, self-contained data centers that include all the components of a traditional data center but in a much smaller footprint.

Edge data center management comes with its own set of challenges related to infrastructure and operations. With edge and micro data centers placed across large geographic locations, most edge data centers must be managed remotely as part of large, disparate deployments. Supporting these deployments can require specific capabilities designed for remote data center power management, such as the ability to remotely power cycle devices, as well as environmental monitoring and asset inventory management. Upgrades and maintenance may also be a concern.

To avoid buyer’s remorse when deploying your edge data centers, make sure your data center management software has the capabilities needed to remotely management all your sites. Consider data center software that supports multi-site deployments and has floor maps for each location to help you better direct technicians without being on site. You just may find the benefits outweigh the potential challenges when edge data centers are paired with the right data center management tools.   

2. Data center consolidation, colocation, and virtual/hybrid/cloud environments

On the flip side of edge and micro data centers is the growing trend of large, complex data center environments. To decrease costs and physical data center resource requirements, more organizations are consolidating their smaller, disparate sites. Additionally, data center colocation providers continue to enjoy a growth trajectory, as a result of strong business from both hyperscale public cloud and organizations that are transitioning their data center assets and applications to colocation data centers and hybrid/cloud environments.

As with edge data centers, remotely managing a mix of multiple owner-operated, colo-operated, and cloud environments without DCIM software or other remote management solutions can be difficult. With assets spread across all these sites, it can be difficult to get an accurate read on the assets you have and to migrate or decommission them as necessary. Colocation data center management can be tricky in this regard, especially if you are using managed services.

A single source of truth for data center asset management is critical to keeping track of your devices across these sites as you consolidate and move your data centers. Automated change management workflows can also help you keep track of the moves/adds/changes across your data centers so you can ensure that the correct work was completed.  

3. Smarter, faster data center capacity planning

A few factors are driving the need for data center managers to optimize data center capacity management. As mentioned earlier, data center managers need to be able to deploy resources on demand, at the speed of the business. To further complicate capacity, that demand has significantly increased thanks to technology trends like IoT, big data, and AI. At the same time, data center managers are under pressure to make the most of the resources available to them.

Modern data center managers need to jump ahead of the curve for this trend just to be able to meet IT resource demand. They will need to proactively plan capacity for projects in the pipeline and provision at the speed of IT, or risk a shortfall of resources. Yet, many data center managers struggle just with understanding real-time capacities for power, space, cooling, and network connectivity from the devices in their data centers.

Data center capacity planning is difficult with traditional tools. Rather than using CAD floor map diagrams and spreadsheets, you should look for data center software that enables fast and easy analysis of capacity data via at-a-glance dashboards and reports. 

4. Increasing use of data and analytics

Intelligent PDUs, sensors, and other smart facility items in modern data centers are generating massive volumes of data. This explosion of data will only continue—and in fact will become a business imperative—as predictive artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning applications make their way into the data center. Additionally, data centers will increasingly leverage instrumentation for data center environmental and power monitoring as well as data center energy consumption.

Modern data center monitoring software and DCIM solutions provide the means for data center managers to collect and store this data. Unfortunately, most data center managers don’t have the time, training, or data visualization software to explore these huge datasets while still completing their daily tasks. Thus, the true value of this data and the ability to consistently make smarter data center management decisions remain elusive.

As more data centers become driven by data, data center managers will need to embrace this trend to keep pace with their peers. Rather than become overwhelmed by a large number of data center Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), determine the metrics that matter to your organization and focus on them. If possible, leverage KPIs created by your business for your business and gain alignment on these KPIs across your organization.

5. Integration through APIs

Integration across different applications and databases, including third-party ticketing systems and CMDBs, is key functionality for today’s data center managers. Data centers are complex ecosystems that impact different areas of the business, many of which are managed by their own systems. Connecting these systems together seamlessly via integration helps data center managers correlate critical data across the enterprise and ensures that data can be shared and updated across applications.

APIs are critical enablers of integration, but ensuring that they work can be fraught with challenges. Integration via APIs can be difficult, resource intensive, and time consuming. It will likely require specialized technical knowledge. Organizations that need multiple integrations may find themselves focusing on a select few and missing out on the full benefits that APIs can provide.

Data center managers need to ensure that they are taking all integration possibilities into account when managing their own ecosystems and during the data center software vendor selection process. Ensure that the software you select will integrate with your current systems and provides technical resources to help you get started. Look for data center management tools with well-documented APIs, with detailed, easy-to-understand examples.

Keeping current with all modern DCIM software and data center monitoring trends is harder than it sounds, and this year is no exception. From edge data centers to data center capacity planning optimization, 2018 is sure to be a transformative year for data center infrastructure management. However, regardless of what’s to come this year, we’re confident that having the right data center software is the key to keeping pace with these trends and leveraging them to your competitive advantage.

Wondering what 2018 holds for DCIM software? The future is now with Sunbird’s second-generation DCIM software that’s fast, easy, and complete. Take a test drive today.

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