Yes, data centers and server rooms are changing. The explosion of cloud infrastructure solutions enabled organizations to adopt large virtual workloads while innovative server technology offers more in less space. Though effective in causing the downward trend we’ve seen in recent years, these trends hardly mean the end of on-premises infrastructures.
Through several years of trial-and-error, industry thought leaders are clear: the future of enterprise IT environments is hybrid. Long the eye candy across industries, cloud technology offers organizations small and large the ability to scale their operations efficiently. The reality is that without an on-premises infrastructure managing mission-critical workloads, organizations struggle to manage compliance, security, and the network entirely.
This article looks at the state of network infrastructures, how data centers are evolving, and what workloads are best for on-premise and cloud infrastructures.
Findings from the State of the Data Center
In preparation for the 2021 Data Center World Conference, AFCOM released the 5th annual State of the Data Center industry report last month. Since 1980, the Association for Computer Operations Management – known today as just AFCOM – has been a leading think tank for data center and IT infrastructure professionals.
Use of Cloud Computing Shifting
After a decade of cloud solutions for anything and everything – or at least that’s how the breathless hype made it appear – the pace of X-as-a-Service adoption is finally slowing, or at least moving away from the public cloud toward a balance between cloud and on-premises (hybrid for the win!).
The most significant finding of the report was that cloud computing grew by 26%. While this is still a significant jump, it also reflects a growing reliance on a hybrid approach.
Organizations slow to adopt cloud solutions are coming along, but, as a whole, there’s no evidence to show hybrid organizations are increasing their share of cloud workloads.
Buying Pattern Trends
The report details how IT is investing, with priorities including:
- Edge computing
Condensing Data Center Operations
Advancing technology and virtualization are transforming the physical spaces that house data. News like IBM’s 2nm proof of concept point to the innovation allowing for condensed processing in data centers. Average rack density compared to AFCOM’s 2018 survey result shows an increase from 5kW to 7kW.
Further confirming this trend, 62% of organizations said they would focus more on increasing the density of racks and were set on data center space for the next three years. Nearly 80% of respondents stated no intention of building new data centers in the next year.
A reason why hybrid infrastructure is the big winner from this report is the second data point – a whopping 58% of organizations are shifting from public cloud to private or colocation hosting. Whether respondents fear public cloud vulnerabilities or realize some workloads function best off the cloud, it’s a sign of an evolving perspective toward cloud computing’s role.
Colocation and private data centers continue to be a window for outsourcing server storage needs. We dive into how colocation centers compare as alternatives to in-house data centers in Server Room Power Consumption: The Battle Between Demand and Efficiency.
Coming Soon: Data Center Automation
AFCOM’s findings showed 16% of organizations are already deploying automation in the data center. And talk about trends – more than 40% of organizations expressed a plan to deploy robotics and automation by 2024.
Innovation in software automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence continue to be driving forces behind an automated workforce in the not-so-distant future. While humans remain a necessary part of the equation, the vulnerabilities human error presents are gaps robotics can fill. Workflows like monitoring, maintenance, and application management of on-premises infrastructure are ready for automated processes.
Check out our picks for Best Server Monitoring Software & Tools of 2021.
Still a Top Priority: Security
To no one’s surprise, in 2021, security remains a top concern of IT administrators and personnel. Among respondents, the most cited fears were external threats, with ransomware at 59% and DDoS attacks at 34% of organizations.
Zero trust is the buzz for solving the ills of the perimeter-less network. Beyond traditional security solutions like backup redundancy, security information and events managers (SIEM), and firewalls, zero trust is a long-term endeavor to master and control internal network traffic.
While intimidating, knowing how to implement zero trust is the first step – and we’ve got you covered. Read Using Zero Trust Security to Protect Applications and Databases to learn more and invest in your network’s future security posture.
Balancing on-premises and cloud workloads
On-Premises vs. Cloud Workloads
The survey also posed to 600 medium to large organizations what percentage of infrastructure operations belonged to:
- On-premises legacy environments
- Public cloud workloads
- Private or hybrid cloud workloads
This split shows public cloud workloads hold the overall lead for now. As private cloud and hybrid infrastructure strategies gain followers, the public cloud will continue to be an ongoing source for specific workloads.
What’s taking place is a natural adaptation period to what’s been relatively new technology for industry customers. As cloud solutions have been available and widely deployed for some time now, organizations can decipher which workloads best suit the environment options. The foundational wisdom here emphasizes that all mission-critical workloads should be a part of your on-premises infrastructure while public cloud workflows should have limited access to the rest of the network.
Best Workloads for On-Premises
- Business applications
- Engineering and technical
- All mission-critical workloads
- Structured data management
- Unstructured data analysis
Best Workloads for Cloud
- Database solutions
- Data streaming and IoT
- Industry market solutions
- Software development
- Web and content hosting
The future is hybrid
If the point hasn’t been made clear, there is no avenue where an enterprise can last – nevermind thrive – without an on-premises infrastructure strategy. Whereas on-premises once meant physically feet away from your desk, the term is better applied as any physically hosted appliance, be it in-house, a remote private data center, or a colocation service.
While cloud solutions are prevalent and remain valuable, public cloud platforms can’t service the organization network’s full spectrum of needs. Private clouds are on the rise, and as organizations adopt their new network segment, a strategy for workload allocation is essential.
With network sizes booming and data integrity more important than ever, on-prem infrastructure and private clouds also offer more direct access to the engines that keep businesses running.