Data centres have become the information factories of the modern age and IT managers are no longer the only ones interested in their performance. Data centre operators are now faced with demands for increased efficiency as a means to deliver savings and with downtime making headline news, businesses have also become concerned with availability which has driven a demand for resilience.

There has been a lot of debate about what the future holds for the data centre and one thing that everyone agrees on is that the data centres we have today are not the data centres we need for the future.

Current data centre designs are too complex, wasteful and not sustainable.

A recent IBM study showed that globally, only about 1 in 5 data centres are operating at the highest strategic level of optimisation and out of the 278 certifications awarded by The Uptime Institute, 218 of them have been based upon design documents. So far only 67 have completed certification of a finished facility.

Perhaps the reason for this is that the costs for provisioning and operating a TierIV data centre are enormous and when it came down to it, a large number of data centre operators either couldn’t meet their own design specifications or they chose to make “value engineering” decisions during the construction process. Virtualisation and cloud technology has also punished those who invested in large data centres by creating a huge volume of stranded capacity.

The data centres of the future will develop an exponentially smaller footprint, but with far greater utility. They will be modular, allowing them to be deployed quickly, cheaply and scale on demand. They will be multi-tiered to offer customers different levels of resilience depending on their needs. They will be self-optimising and include a greater level of automation to remove the risks from human error. Their requirements for cooling, humidity and airflow are likely to change as systems become more robust and manufacturer’s guidelines move away from traditional beliefs about data centres.

The data centre is no longer just the place where IT lives; it is part of the solution. We now need to re-evaluate the data centre as a single integrated machine with both design and operation being critical to its success.