Gartner tips virtual data centers as future

New analyst projections put the software-driven, commoditized data center widely ahead of traditional data center components. And, ultimately, data centers become fully elastic and virtual.

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As the amount of structured and unstructured data generated through digital growth increases, the need for places to put the stuff is also growing.

And it’s going to be in Hyper-converged Integrated Systems (HCIS), according to Gartner analyst Michael Warrilow, speaking at Gartner’s Tech Growth and Innovation Conference in Los Angeles last week.

Hyper-converged systems are where software tools are used on commoditized hardware. HCIS is the platform for shared computing and storage resources. It’s “based on software-defined storage, software-defined compute, commodity hardware and a unified management interface,” Gartner explains on its website.

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Warrilow said new figures from Gartner—figures not yet in Gartner’s published forecast research—show that HCIS will be the “fastest growing data center segment” and will get to a 32 percent share of the integrated systems market by 2020. It’s a “hot near-term opportunity,” he explained to the IT crowd.

Gartner previously said—in May—that it thought the genre would reach about a quarter (24 percent) of the market by 2019.

“Prepare now for the third wave of integrated systems,” Gartner’s May-delivered press release said. By "third" it means that the first wave was blade, the second being converged infrastructures “and the advent of HCIS for specific use cases,” and the third being “continuous application and microservices delivery on HCIS platforms” up to 2025, the release says.

Gartner is an IT consulting firm that provides analysis for companies. The conference was pitched at offering advice for IT firms, who may already be in the data center market in areas such as storage, servers, security and network equipment. Those firms are interested in learning where their future growth may be coming from.

It's about software

And software is where it’s at. The traditional storage market of hybrid and HDD arrays, which made up almost all (97 percent) of the storage market back in 2013, is being eaten away by software-defined infrastructure, for example, Gartner said.

Indeed, Gartner reckons that traditional hybrid and HDD market share will drop to less than half the market (44 percent) by 2019. HCIS, solid state arrays and build-your-own (BYO) software-defined storage replaces it, Warrilow said.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is actually happening.

“A trillion dollars of spend over the next four years will move from traditional non-cloud to cloud,” Warrilow said.

But cloud isn’t everything. Not everyone needs it. If the business is relatively static, without any agility requirement at IT, it doesn’t necessarily need cloud infrastructure. Likewise if data center hardware is completely depreciated, and there’s no hardware refresh until the gear becomes unusable, there’s no need. Same with a new hardware buy—one doesn’t need to go IaaS cloud, Warrilow believes.

IaaS, cloud and HCIS might just be the beginning of an enterprise data center revolution, Warrilow said. The notion that “the data center will no longer be the center of the universe” is a possibility, he said. What he means is that potentially a “carrier-neutral, cloud-agnostic, highly connected, co-location hub” replaces enterprise data centers.

“A higher mix of elastic and scalable cloud infrastructure” may substitute, Warrilow said. “The data center becomes less physical and becomes more software defined, and becomes more virtual—a mix of on and off premises.”

Even think of having disaster recovery as a service rather than having a secondary data center, he said. The idea being that IT service businesses reduce the capital expenditure on behalf of their general business clients.

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