Death of the Data Center? Not so Fast…
Dion Hinchcliffe, the leading proponent of Web Oriented Architecture (WOA), recently posted details about Amazon’s new Elastic Block Store (EBS), a cloud-based computing platform that ostensibly is targeted at fulfilling the roles of enteprise-class data centers.
While Amazon Web Services’ previous offerings — including Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for processing and message queuing, S3 for storage, and SimpleDB as a cloud database — enabled organizations to move functions out to the clouds, their capacity was limited, Dion observes. However, he adds, EBS “now makes it possible to have dozens, and potentially hundreds, of terabytes of readily-accessible persistent network storage in a traditional format of choice, particularly relational databases, all at commodity prices.”
Is this the direction of enterprise data centers? Will we see more of the nuts-and-bolts work and maintenance handled in the cloud? Some observers say yes. Dion quotes Jeff Schneider, CEO of SOA firm MomentumSI, who stated that “we might just be ready to declare the ‘time of death’ for the enterprise data center.”
Dion said that it’s too soon to write off onsite data centers, and it may take at least two to five years before we start seeing wholesale movement of data centers to the cloud. “Enterprises are notoriously slow moving and risk averse when it comes to major IT changes,” he says, adding that “there will be a great deal of early skepticism from many quarters about such a strategic shifts, some of which will be valid and much of which will not be.”
He adds, however, that “it’s fairly clear that the classical multi-hundred thousand square foot proprietary data center is a dinosaur of another age, like mainframes are for most organizations today.”
It’s way too soon to declare the data center dead, a dinosaur, or even an anachronism. If anything, there has been an expansion of data centers in recent years, as organizations have increased their online capabilities. In addition, organizations have made enormous investments in their legacy and Web infrastructures, and are not ready to throw it all out.
The mainframe-as-dinosaur analogy is not only a tired one, but also not the case, IBM has reported record sales of its System i series, which are geared to support the latest workloads, from open source to SOA.
Cloud computing has clearly become an important option for companies seeking low-cost processing power and application functionality. As Dion remarks, “the relentless forces of commoditization and competition are having their say as well and cloud computing offers up very substantial bottom-line returns. Throw in an economic downturn and a round of enterprise cost-cutting and the market and cloud computing seem ready to meet.”
The time has come for cloud computing, but its going to take time. Remember, there’s been a lot of outsourcing in the traditional sense as well — EDS and IBM Global Services have more than their share of data centers. Don’t close up that data center anytime soon.
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