The Future of the Data Center

Over the last decade, huge growth in demand for Internet and mobile services has driven rapid transformation in digital businesses. This growth has been highly disruptive; it has created new business opportunities, and challenged the status quo. In the data center, two forces have created much of this change: the evolution of virtualization and the rise of cloud computing. However these forces represent only two of the three key elements that will drive competitive advantage going forward. The third element—and missing piece—is a flexible computing, storage, and network fabric that will usher in an age of truly agile digital infrastructure.

Virtualization has set the stage for agile infrastructure. It has enabled elastic horizontal scaling, planted the seeds for cloud computing, and created new standard units of computing, such as virtual machines, which could be installed on one server or span many.

The growth in virtualization has been complemented by the expansion of various flavors of cloud computing infrastructure services: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and the most prevalent form, Software as a Service (SaaS). By creating the potential for massive scalability, cloud computing has created new business models and changed the context for existing ones. Businesses are counting on the cloud not simply for lower total cost of ownership (TCO), but also greater return on investment (ROI), as they increasingly try to use the flexibility of the cloud for business advantage — reaching their users anywhere in the world and accelerating their ability to evolve to meet customer needs.