Gartner: 10 critical IT trends for the next five years

9. Evolution toward the virtual data center: As we enter the third phase of virtualization (phase 1: MF/Unix, phase 2: basic x86) we see that the higher the proportion of virtualized instances, the greater the workload mobility across distributed and connected network nodes, validating fabric and cloud computing as viable architectures. As more of the infrastructure becomes virtualized, we are reshaping IT infrastructure. We will see more of the possibilities in the future where the "fabric" will eventually have the intelligence to analyze its own properties against policy rules that create optimum paths, change them to match changing conditions and do so without requiring laborious parameter adjustments. X86 virtualization is effectively the most important technology innovation behind the modernization of the data center. With it will be a sea-change in how we view the roles of compute, network and storage elements -- from physical hardwired to logical and decoupled applications.

10. IT demand: With the increased awareness of the environmental impact data centers can have, there has been a flurry of activity around the need for a data center efficiency metric. Most that have been proposed, including power usage effectiveness (PUE) and data center infrastructure efficiency (DCiE), attempt to map a direct relationship between total facility power delivered and IT equipment power available. Although these metrics will provide a high-level benchmark for comparison purposes between data centers, what they do not provide is any criteria to show incremental improvements in efficiency over time. They do not allow for monitoring the effective use of the power supplied -- just the differences between power supplied and power consumed.

For example, a data center might be rated with a PUE of 2.0, an average rating, but if that data center manager decided to begin using virtualization to increase his or her average server utilization from 10% to 60%, while the data center itself would become more efficient using existing resources, then the overall PUE would not change at all. A more effective way to look at energy consumption is to analyze the effective use of power by existing IT equipment, relative to the performance of that equipment. While this may sound intuitively obvious, a typical x86 server will consume between 60% and 70% of its total power load when running at very low utilization levels. Raising utilization levels has only a nominal impact on power consumed, and yet a significant impact on effective performance per kilowatt.

Pushing IT resources toward higher effective performance per kilowatt can have a twofold effect of improving energy consumption (putting energy to work) and extending the life of existing assets through increased throughput. The PPE metric is designed to capture this effect.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: @nwwlayer8 and on Facebook.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "Gartner: 10 critical IT trends for the next five years" was originally published by Network World.

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