DATA CENTERS

  • 11/26/2013
    9:06 AM
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Give Thanks To The Datacenter

Datacenter professionals, once a quiet bunch, have been thrust into the limelight in 2013. Here's why they should appreciate their new roles as infrastructure heroes.

In many ways, 2013 has been the Year of the Datacenter. With trends like cloud computing, mobility, and big data dominating IT talk, the datacenter's ability to change and mature into the flexible and dynamic nerve center necessary to support modern enterprises has placed a spotlight on technologies formerly considered decidedly unsexy.

And that means datacenter folks, who used to toil in obscurity as the proverbial people behind the curtain, have emerged as modern enterprise heroes. So with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, here are eight reasons you should be especially thankful as you carve into your turkey.

1. You're not on the NSA's hit list.
In a year that has featured one story after another about the NSA's questionable collection of private information, datacenter operators surely felt the pain of their brethren at Yahoo and Google. They also were probably quite relieved not to have to be called into the CIO's office to brainstorm ways to keep the NSA out.

2. The business world has taken serious note of what you do.
This gets back to the whole behind-the-curtain thing. Sure, datacenter pros may have enjoyed their relative anonymity in the past. But now that the datacenter is a key enabler for so many important technologies, getting a little recognition can't help but cause the staff to puff their chests out.

3. The websites you support are better thought out than HealthCare.gov.
Fewer site launches have been more problematic than that of the Obamacare portal. The federal IT staffers responsible for the boondoggle are hard at work trying to fix the site, but private-sector employers would have taken a different approach known as pink slips. Then again, most of them pay sufficient attention to testing and validation to avoid such messes.

4. Your days of having to babysit servers are nearing an end…
Between enterprises' growing acceptance of the public cloud and the fact that most of their infrastructures are largely virtualized, many corporate datacenters are now running a fraction of the physical servers they did previously. And though virtual servers certainly have their challenges, at least there's a lot less time to be spent crawling around and under racks checking for damaged or disconnected cables.

5. … and you no longer have to explain why servers are running at 12% capacity.
If there's one thing datacenter administrators are sick of doing, it's having the "Why aren't we making better use of our servers?" discussion. With the move toward software-defined datacenters (SDDCs) picking up steam, datacenter pros are looking at a future that will be geared toward helping the business react and grow, rather than monitoring hardware efficiency.

6. The C-suite finally understands the value of disaster recovery and business continuity.
The move toward virtualization and SDDCs -- which has made coping with unexpected outages much less expensive -- has a lot more to do with this than any come-to-Jesus moment in the executive suite. Even so, a lot of datacenter managers are sleeping sounder knowing that they can reprovision datacenter resources with a few clicks or swipes.

7. The trend toward green datacenters is chipping away at your rep as a power hog.
When yearend accounting time arrived, those pesky datacenter power bills were a sticking point. It wasn't unusual for datacenter operators to face questions such as "Why are we spending so much to power servers that are barely ever even used?" or "Can't you do something to lower our power bills?" Now that companies have wised up to the value of placing datacenters in cold-weather locations, investing in renewable power sources such as wind and solar, and engaging in things like water conservation, datacenter pros figure to spend a lot less time answering for their power consumption.

8. Advances in technology improve the work-life balance.
Datacenter pros have historically faced countless interruptions of their Thanksgiving dinners (and Christmas celebrations, kids' birthday parties, big football games… the list goes on) when the infrastructure supporting mission-critical, round-the-clock systems failed. With today's ability to monitor, diagnose, and even repair such glitches remotely, there should be a lot fewer datacenter widows (and widowers) holding the fort on special occasions.

That's a lot for which we can be thankful. What else about your job makes you grateful this holiday season?

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