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Thoughts on the future of the data center

Futurist Thornton May discusses the changing face of the data center and future data center scenarios.

The following presentation was given at Data Center Decisions Spring 2005 in New York.

Like the lame Olympian patron saint of tool users (the god Hephaestos-Vulcan), data center innovations all too frequently limp, crawl, and sometimes stumble into the enterprise. The ballet of technologies, processes and people that the contemporary data center manager is called upon to choreograph in real-time has grown to mind-numbing proportions. Devices never meant to talk to one another have to be integrated. Organizational 'tribes' who don't want to talk to one another have to be drawn into consensus or at the very least induced to sign non-aggression pacts. Vendors who historically tried to sell 'what they got' have to be compelled to deliver 'what we need.' The data center has become a very interesting place.

Despite the fact that humans were designed to move forward (examine how your head is attached to your spine) and process exceptions, many in the data center space violate the design specs of our species and appear obsessed by the past. They focus on what happened before to the absolute detriment of thinking about what comes next.

The data center is becoming a very important place and a place of possible differentiation. The changing economics of high-availability computing, an intriguing array of on-the-drawing board vendor ideas about self-managing/self-tuning platforms, and a general desire on the part of executives to convert fixed costs into variable costs are leading CIOs to rethink long held assumptions about data centers.

Futurist Thornton May shares data drawn from on-going CIO Habitat research at the IT Leadership Academy regarding mental models of executive thinking about data center futures, leadership challenges facing data center professionals, and timelines associated with future data center scenarios.

View the presentation.

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