Analyst Report: The application-defined data center

On Big Data

Computing’s continuing evolution encompasses big data, machine learning, high-performance computing, the use of public clouds, and emerging consumption patterns such as the internet of things. These changes drive how data centers and new architectures are being utilized, which means the data center must change as well, including its ability to adapt to new and emerging business applications. These applications fuel the requirements that drive demand and, ultimately, the technology. The effect of this most recent evolution of computing on the data center is the core theme of this paper.

The application determines many things, including where the data needs to reside, infrastructure patterns that are relevant, safeguards that need to be in place, and how much of an investment should be made in the infrastructure itself. For instance, some applications need to process sensitive information, such as patient health care data or financial data that is governed by other regulations. In many instances, these applications are better placed within colocation providers that have experience handling a specific type of data. And in some cases the customer needs quickly provisioned and expandable processes that may leverage hybrid cloud computing.

This report will help enterprises IT executives define which type of infrastructure is most suitable to their applications. It will address issues such as resiliency, location, security, governance, cost, expansion, latency, and management. The result will be an understanding of which type of infrastructure can provide the best fit at the lowest risk and cost.

Key findings in this report include:

  • Enterprises should assess their application and data requirements using a set of steps that move enterprise IT toward a better understanding of the applications and data requirements. That assessment will determine the right target platform, be it locally hosted, leveraging a colocation provider, or a public cloud. Core considerations include latency, cost, and security, but other requirements should be considered as well.
  • For too long, the data center has been written off as a liability or something that conflicts with the cloud computing movement. However, the data center is an asset to the enterprise. And cloud computing does not limit the data center’s value, it enhances it. The core question should be, How can enterprises leverage the data center effectively to meet the needs of their existing or new applications?
  • Enterprises should define their application requirements at a detailed level and then leverage those requirements to define the right architecture and select the best platform. This process will identify and define the proper use of data center assets and how cloud-based platforms may or may not fit into the mix.
  • Data center or colocation providers offer the ability to gateway into public cloud services. These hosting options for applications and data provide enterprise IT with choices. In many cases the data center can provide a better platform for applications based on their requirements. This does not replace the use of cloud computing. Rather, it makes the use of cloud-based assets more valuable.
  • Security and governance are often overlooked and are directly related to application requirements. So enterprises need to determine the needs of the applications and then integrate the right security and governance models into those requirements.

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Thumbnail image courtesy of flickr user Bob Mical.

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. The importance of the application
  3. Application requirements
  4. What’s best for the application?
  5. How to implement web-scale architectures that exist locally
  6. Evolving the data center, step-by-step
  7. Future architecture and capabilities
  8. Key takeaways
  9. About David S. Linthicum
  10. About Gigaom Research

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