Owners or custodians of the data centre are feeling the pressure from many lines of business to discover and transform the data centre into a business enabler.

By Riccardo Fiorentino, chief technology officer of EOH Technology Solutions

However, owners of data centres are struggling to just take the first step onto the transformation road, in part because all of the new technologies available that are enabling data centre modernisation are causing equal amounts of confusion.

Blockchain, IOT, IIOT, edge computing, DevOps, DevSecOPs, AIOps, AI, dark data, XaaS, multi-cloud, big data, data analytics, HCI and many other technologies are being spoken about on a daily basis.

The struggle for CIOs and CTOs is trying to keep up with what all of these are, developing an understanding, strategising the implementation and hoping they haven’t missed anything that their competitors are doing that will render the organisation uncompetitive.

Then, during this bombardment of new thoughts, ideas and “must haves”, there’s the constant barrage of alarms and alerts around the ever present threat of cyber security attacks.

Mix this all together and the landscape that one surveys is daunting and confusing, leaving technology leaders questioning how they decipher which one of these will truly bring about bring about business value and risk profile reduction.

The financial aspect is no less complicated. Balancing budgets, new initiatives and figuring out the correct operating model is no easier than picking the correct modernisation strategy. There is also a push to try and turn IT services from a cost centre to a profit centre or at least to recoup costs from the lines of business they support.

A modern data centre should be fully software defined, and is software defined down to the level where the switching infrastructure is just another hardware platform to house virtual machines running switching functions.

The lifecycle of data lives in policies, creating, classifying, protecting and deleting, while providing clean representable information into analytics platforms.

Workloads can be moved and spun up wherever they are needed, and the data centre is secured the same way in one environment as it is in another. It is never too big and it is never too small, and access to any new platforms that come out is easy.

Finally, a modern data centre is not owned by the business, but it runs the latest generations and versions of both hardware and software, and allows the organisation to pay for what it uses, when it uses it. This applies equally to the cutting edge technologies mentioned above.

However, with all the options available, a clear starting point doesn’t always identify itself. Alignment with what the business wants to achieve will help pick a starting point. If business wants to run a campaign that requires resources for a set but short term, then they need to get into the hybrid data centre model so they can erect and tear down capability as required, and track costs.

It seems a simple enough example, but questions on how the service will be consumed will quickly expose where the data centre needs to be modernised to make use of the new technologies out there.

To decide which technologies will provide value, the business must take a step back away from the digital flood and develop a process against which it can run a new “buzzword” through a system of “gates” that will determine its relevance. For example, if a company doesn’t develop anything in-house, the concepts of DevOps and DevSecops are irrelevant.

If the business is not collecting tons of information somewhere as part of its operations or customer service through devices which require immediate decisions, then there is no need for Edge Computing. If the business is not collecting any data through sensors and wireless devices, they can scrap IOT and IIOT off their list.

A modern data centre is always at the bleeding edge of technology, in the sense that previously a virtualised infrastructure was once classed as the modern datacentre (and is still a key factor now) but many technological advancements have happened since then which businesses need in order to stay ahead of competitors.

Data centre modernisation therefore boils down to knowing what it means and how forward-thinking a company’s digital strategy is.