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Data center technologies evolve to meet tomorrow's computing demands

VMware's upcoming public cloud and AMD's 64-bit ARM servers are technologies for the data center that exemplify the changes in the IT industry.

BOSTON -- VMware, AMD and other major tech industry players converged here this week to discuss trends and the ways their own technologies might impact the data center in years to come.

One example of the potential impact is VMware's upcoming expansion from virtualization to public cloud.

On May 21, VMware will enter the public cloud market with the vCloud hybrid service, Carl Eschenbach, VMware president and chief operating officer announced during the the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.

The service will be delivered in different ways. Enterprise customers can buy capacity from VMware, and the company will create a virtual data center that incorporates a firewall. VMware also will sell a virtual private cloud, or customers can buy the service using a utility-based model, Eschenbach said.

How VMware will compete against other, already established cloud services remains to be seen. But the company's move into the public cloud market exemplifies the changes happening in data centers.

The server hardware space also is in transition, with microservers and ARM processors making their way into data centers. Indeed, the industry is at an inflection point and the increased demand for data centers has challenged servers, said Andrew Feldman, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's server business unit.

Feldman noted that AMD will deliver a 64-bit ARM server next year, which is important for dynamic RAM access. The new technology will also enable AMD to offer substantial advantages in power and cost savings. All in all, it will allow data center owners to add more computing power to their facility, he said.

Other companies at the conference discussed such data center technologies as software-defined networking, which will change data centers in the future by creating a more efficient network. 

"The data center is changing in so many different directions," said Guido Appenzeller, chief executive officer and co-founder of Big Switch Networks Inc. in Mountain View, Calif.

Data center buildouts versus colocation, cloud

Meanwhile, the data center industry continues to grow. Companies such as Equinix Inc. demonstrate the strength of the market for data center technologies, as the adoption of cloud, mobile computing and other technologies affect their buildouts.

Equinix has experienced a 16% growth rate for colocation data centers, which are now on five continents, said Steve Smith, chief executive officer and president, during his conference keynote.

One hot topic during the conference was whether enterprises in years to come will rent or build their own data centers to take advantage of the cloud and other data center technologies.

Google, Microsoft and Amazon have all gone through the exercise of figuring out the business case for data center projects, and have a huge interconnect and low capital per device, said JR Rivers, founder of networking startup Cumulus Networks, in Sunnyvale, Calif. Enterprises "look and say, 'How does Google do this?'" he said.

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