10 Trends Affecting Digital Infrastructure and Operations: The Redefinition of the Data Center

In the past, any time a business would request new applications or services, IT organizations would have to determine how they would be able to build the application to fit into their existing architecture. And, although this has been the go-to strategy for environments that are on-premises and completely controlled by I&O providers, the process can self-constraining as new architecture requires may make it hard to adapt quickly to changing client demands. As this problem continues to become more pressing, it is important for Infrastructure and Operations organizations to ensure they are redefining their historic definition of data centers.

Many I&O leaders are searching for new digital infrastructure delivery options to accommodate new industry trends like cloud adoption; however, these challenges rely on new focuses to overcome challenges and provide value to the business as a whole instead of focusing on single goals. To achieve this, organizations are building IT strategies that focus on their application portfolios rather than homing in on their existing physical architectures. This approach inevitably has led many Infrastructure and Operations organizations to instead determine what IT-architecture-driven decisions must be made to accommodate a service-driven strategy that modern businesses are searching for.

Instead of asking how I&O organizations can build new services, the first question that has become the new norm is “How can we integrate new services into our existing processes to add value?” Some of the ways Infrastructure and Operations leaders are finding success with this approach include focusing on IoT solutions, “nontraditional” IT and edge compute environments to accommodate outward-facing applications that may improve the customer experience. In turn, this outward focus has led many organizations to rethink their existing placement of some applications to minimize geopolitical limitations, network latency, and customer population clusters. 

Coincidentally, many traditional enterprises that still depend on dated data centers do not want to build new ones or rebuild the existing ones and, instead, want to rely on other providers to manage the physical infrastructure they require. As a replacement for these traditional data centers, colocation has quickly become a viable option because it offers energy efficiency, dedicated facilities management, reliability, higher availability, and certified building tier levels while also ensuring the necessary room for scaling. As many I&O leaders have found, this makes on-premises data centers a “last resort” for many businesses in modern times. To capitalize on this, these same leaders should:

  • Develop a deep understanding of edge requirements to inform customers of appropriate strategies. 
  • Anticipate on-premises contraction while simultaneously identifying opportunities to evolve away from on-premises systems. 
  • Provide the flexible solutions required to meet growing or new workload needs. 

Trends are showing that, in a large percentage of cases, on-premises data centers are no longer traditional and well-managed, third-party facilities that can provide cloud or onramp connection services are becoming the new normal. Anything that may remain on-premises for data centers will often be mission-critical and require much greater oversight and levels of control than previously imagined. In essence, all that will remain after the redefinition of a data center will be older platforms that have been tightly integrated with other systems that can’t be broken apart because it will be cost-prohibitive or risk-prohibitive to try and migrate them.