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A look into the crystal ball – Data centres in 2016

Posted by on January 13, 2016

Now that the year is well underway there is still time to preview what trends will actually take hold in 2016. For businesses,it’s a time to spot trends, keep abreast of market changes and protect against emerging risks. For most commercial organisations, any crystal ball gazing tends to focus on what customers and competitors are getting up to, but it’s also worth looking not only at the internal workings of the business but also the trends that are affecting suppliers and outsource partners. Put simply, in a connected world, your suppliers and partners are effectively part of the business.

Arguably that principle has no better illustration than the relationship between organisations and their data centres. At a time when businesses in all sectors rely on reliable, scalable and cost-effective compute resources, data centres – whether in-house or outsourced – play a vital role in ensuring that the organisation operates efficiently and securely.

And while the image of a data centre – characterised as row upon row of servers stacked in secure, temperature controlled rooms – might suggest an industry that changes very little, the truth is that data centre providers work in a fast-changing environment in terms of technology and regulation. The way they respond to the challenges in the marketplace has a direct impact on customer organisations.

So as 2016 unfolds…what does the future hold for the data centre industry?  We’ve put together some of the key trends and issues for the year ahead.

The cloud comes down to earth

Few would deny that Cloud  has revolutionised corporate IT. Rather than processing and storing information in-house or in third party data centres, increasing numbers of organisations have “adopted” functions such as infrastructure, email, databases and content delivery from cloud providers. This has led to a great many stories in the trade and business press along the lines of “the death of the data centre.”

But in 2016, we expect a growing realisation that cloud providers rely on their data centres to function.. More importantly, with new regulations on the horizon, there will be much more focus on where those data centres are located geographically. Services may be delivered via the cloud, but data is stored here on earth.

The great data hunt

Why does this matter?  Well the issue of data sovereignty is taking centre stage in 2016. We had a taste of this last year when the European Court of Justice effectively ruled that the so-called Safe Harbor Agreement – under which compliant US companies could migrate digitised information on European customers to servers in North America – effectively breached EU data protection regulations. And without Safe Harbor, US companies must negotiate with national regulators before transferring data to their home jurisdiction.

Essentially this means that the geographical location of data centres matters. Indeed, there is now a move among cloud providers to ensure data is stored and processed close to customers.

Data centres really are your partners

We’re likely to hear much more about data sovereignty this year in the run up to the implementation of the EU Data Protection Regulation. Equally important we will hear a lot more about the responsibilities of data centres with regards to securing customer information. Under the “Regulation,” responsibility for security is extended from the organisations collecting customer information (Data controllers) to third parties handling that data (Data Processors). Data centres and their customers will therefore be under much more scrutiny in terms of where they store data and how it will be protected.

Organisations will want to be assured that data centres are compliant. Again, this is likely to feed through to much greater interest in local data centres situated close to customers. Arguably it will also place a much greater emphasis on partnership.

The need for speed

The business landscape is changing. In a whole range of sectors – retail, financial services, travel, to name but three – a new generation of digital start-ups are seeking to disrupt established business models. In response, large organisations are implementing their own digital initiatives. Some are experiments and while many will succeed, many will also fail. Or to put it another way, we are looking at an agile marketplace, where new ideas are tried and either fully implemented or withdrawn rapidly.

Thus start-ups and established businesses alike need a data infrastructure that allows them to scale up or scale back very quickly. In 2016 we expect to see data centres better responding to this need.

Equally important, new technologies such as flash storage will play a part in helping data centres to become more flexible while also offering faster data processing.

The collaboration game 

And finally something close to our hearts. We believe that collaboration between organisations will become much more common. Data centres will respond by offering the platforms and infrastructure to facilitate new ways of working. Infinity has been a pioneer in this regard. Our newest data centre at Here East, situated on the former London Olympic Park will provide a great opportunity for collaboration.

With new infrastructure and space to grow Here East is set to be a campus where innovative digital companies can co-exist, share ideas and collaborate and the data centre plays a vital role in enabling this.

In a changing landscape, data centres are changing too.


Written by Jason O’conaill @joconaill 

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