• United States
IDG Enterprise Consulting Director

The next wave of computing: The New Data Center

Dec 11, 20035 mins
Data CenterGovernment

Starting this week, I want to shift our collective attention to something that’s been occupying my thinking a great deal of late – defining the next wave in computing.

From antiquity, people have recognized the connection between naming and power.Casey Miller and Kate Swift

Dear Vorticians,

I promised this week to shift gears away from our discussion about the future of the Federal Communications Commission, but I just had to include this note about last week’s topic wrap-up from Vortician Dan Scheinman of Cisco.

“John, great mail!  One of the best I have read yet on the subject.  Two things I would say. First, as a side issue, it is very clear that the next frontier for the network is video.  To leave the FCC to video is to invite the same mess all over again. Also, there are many talented folks at the FCC who care deeply about things, as you say.  The issue is really one of national leadership, and we totally lack that.  There is no vision, no leadership, only tactics.  Perhaps when we realize we are going to fall behind India, Japan, Korea and China, people will act. Keep up the good fight.”

Thanks Dan. I needed that. Many Vorticians disagreed with my stance about the end of telecom regulation so you can’t blame me for squeezing in one last note of praise.

Starting this week, I want to shift our collective attention to something that’s been occupying my thinking a great deal of late – defining the next wave in computing.

Why am I thinking about this?

Because there’s a quiet revolution going on in computing – with major change happening at virtually every level of our infrastructure and applications – and it’s just not being discussed, at least not in any comprehensive fashion.

Partly that’s because we’re still so focused on the downturn we’ve just been through, as well as the slow growth in IT budgets and the whole ‘IT doesn’t matter’ imbroglio. Partly it’s because some people claim innovation doesn’t matter and computing has become a commodity. Partly, it’s because we haven’t got a name for the wave ahead. We’ve had the mainframe and minicomputer eras, the PC revolution, the client-server phase. But what’s


All these things mask the scope of the issues IT executives are facing today, from deploying services-oriented, Web-based applications, to virtualizing their computing, network and storage resources.

So, I want to put a stake in the ground and apply my own label to the era ahead, put a name to what we’re building. I think we’re witnessing the emergence of what I’m calling the New Data Center.

What is the New Data Center? At its broadest, it’s a re-envisioning of the traditional, physical data center concept that recognizes the increasingly distributed and virtualized nature of computing and applications, as well as the changing needs of the extended enterprise and increasingly mobile end users.

In this New Data Center environment, applications and resources exist beyond device boundaries and require design, security and management skills that accommodate such a shift. New applications are being built on components and services that span corporate and cross-corporate IT environments. Storage, computing and network resources are becoming virtualized and will be called upon by far-flung applications and users across the extended enterprise. In essence, the New Data Center is the sum total of these distributed, virtualized applications and resources.

My firm belief is that the New Data Center requires a re-thinking and re-investment in infrastructure and applications that will reinvigorate the IT industry. Getting to, and capitalizing on, this new environment will require savvy planning and positioning by customers and vendors. Leaders in this quiet revolution will reap significant rewards in the years ahead.

Let me clarify this a bit, lest I sow confusion.

A traditional data center is the core computing infrastructure where critical business applications are hosted. The New Data Center is, by necessity, less connected to a physical location – the old ‘glass house’ – because the applications it supports and the resources it relies upon are more distributed in nature. (This is true whether the resources are physically consolidated or not.)

The New Data Center is a new, logical vision of how applications and extended enterprise business processes are supported. It is a higher-level view of how IT assets, including services provided by outsourcers, are deployed, managed and secured across a new networked computing landscape. In the New Data Center, applications, business processes and information live on a vast fabric of virtualized computing and network resources to enable the extended enterprise.

That’s a lot to toss out in one newsletter so I’ll quit here for the week. Next week, I want to discuss the implications of the New Data Center for vendors. Two things, however. First, I’ve written a white paper on this New Data Center concept and I’m happy to send it to you. Let me know if you want a copy by writing to me at

Second, as always, share your ideas on what’s ahead. Same address.

Bye for now.