the cloud, big data center, enterprise IT

Cloud, Fog and the Disappearing Data Center

New forms of hosted and “as-a-service” computing are roiling data center architectures. Here’s what to know when it comes time to downsize the data center and decommission servers.

data center

Walk around the data center of most businesses today and you’ll notice there’s a lot less of … well… just about everything.

The endless rows of racks sporting blinking and flashing servers, the army of power supplies, the steady thrum of legions of cooling fans have either been replaced by high-density, low-power servers packed with virtualized systems or made obsolete by ubiquitous cloud computing services.

Hosted and “as-a-service” forms of IT delivery are having the biggest impact, with Gartner analysts predicting that more than half (52 percent) of all enterprises will be using public or hybrid cloud services by 2017. What does that mean for the 12 million servers in U.S. data centers alone? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, cloud and virtualization have left 30 percent of servers in the U.S. “comatose” and no longer needed. Other machines are grossly underutilized, the NRDC found.

The mammoth centralized data center is also being disrupted by cloud-enabled versions of the emerging Internet of Things, the white-hot trend toward hyper-connected devices that Cisco Systems estimates will create a $19 trillion market within four years. The nature of the Internet of Things favors something Cisco and others now refer to as “fog computing” a form of cloud service that places computing power in small bundles closer to where data is created to decrease latency and bandwidth use.

The servers being used in modern configurations like fog computing and distributed data center environments barely resemble the power-hungry machines of the recent past. A half-rack of Hewlett-Packard’s new hyper-scale Moonshot servers can replace 1,600 conventional servers while consuming 90 percent less power, according to HP.

All of which adds up to an increasing number of aging servers being taken out of service, along with the requisite concerns about data security, regulatory compliance and the growing awareness among CIOs and technology decision makers that these machines still have value that should be recouped in order to fund ongoing IT investments.

Emerging technologies such as cloud computing and advanced virtualization have roiled the traditional data-center model in the U.S. These same technologies are also having an impact in developing countries where basic IT infrastructure has lagged. That’s made redundant server components from legacy IT shops a valuable commodity in places where cloud and virtualization are just gaining a foothold.

This is where a trusted ITAD and remarketing partner proves their mettle, handling all of the sensitive aspects of server disposition — wiping the data, documenting chain of custody, ensuring environmentally responsible handling, etc. — while focusing on the repair and resale of the server’s valuable storage media components.