The Data Center Takes Center Stage

The future of the data center is a hot topic among the people I talk to these days. Several issues stand out whenever these discussions occur.

One area hat elicits a great deal of interest is the problem of latency in the network as it relates to retrieving data from storage. Another centers on the skyrocketing costs of network administration and management. The effect of introduction distributed applications built on Internet standards, and the challenge of growing the data center to meet the demands of the users, is also a much-debated topic. The question of how the future data center will develop concerns both internal enterprise data centers and external service provides that house applications and data centers for other companies.

A number of factors are driving this focus on the data center. Since the mid-1990s, data have been created at an unprecedented rate. At the same time, the cost of storage has dropped dramatically. As a result, rather than being relegated to the edge of the enterprise as it was in the past, data have moved to the center. The enterprise data center has always performed important processing functions, such as online transaction processing and batch processing. But now, the sheer volume of data that can now be stored has implications not only for what can be done with the data, but also with the very architecture of the data center itself.

It is no longer enough to continually add servers as demand grows. As more intelligence evolves to the routers and storage networks, the functionality of service, scalability and reliability as a telecommunications network, particularly if it is attached to the public network. The challenges then involve how to move data out of storage, classify them and design applications that create value-added opportunities.

The venture community is excited about the opportunities these challenges present to fundamentally rearchitect the data center. Start-ups such as 3PARdata (a Mayfield investment), Yotta Yotta and Cereva Networks are developing storage systems specifically for shared data centers. Desana Systems (another Mayfield investment) is developing high-performance hardware and intelligent software to enable the rapid delivery of customized application services from the data center. Mayfield has also invested in digiMine, which provides data warehouse and data mining services.

Companies have expressed an avid interest in retooling their data centers to make them more information-centric. This must be done with a careful eye on network administration and network management costs. New services must not only be easy to deploy but also must not add substantially to the overall cost. When the balance is struck, data centers can be powerful generators of new services and revenue.

By: Kevin Fong

Source: Network World


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