January 22, 2024 By Vikas Ganoorkar
Luis Meza
Vinay Parisa
2 min read

Data centers are undergoing significant evolution. Initially, they were massive, centralized facilities that were complex, costly and difficult to replicate or restore. Now, advancements in hardware and software as well as increased focus on sustainability are driving rapid transformation. 

Catalysts and conundrums 

A dramatic shift in development and operations is making data centers more agile and cost-effective. These changes are driven by the following: 

  • market changes and customer requirements prompting organizations to decentralize and diversify their data storage and processing functions; 
  • policy and regulatory requirements such as data sovereignty, affecting data center operations and locations; 
  • the push to reduce complexity, risk and cost with the widespread adoption of cloud and hybrid infrastructure; 
  • the pressure for improved sustainability with greener, more energy-efficient practices; and 
  • AI adoption, both to improve operations and increase performance requirements. 

IDC predicts a surge in AI-enabled automation, reducing the need for human operations intervention by 70% by 2027​​. 

However, AI is also a disruptor, necessitating advanced infrastructure to meet data-intensive computational demands. This isn’t to suggest that disruption is a negative attribute. It’s quite the opposite. If embraced, disruption can push the organization to new heights and lead to tremendous outcomes. 

Embrace change and innovation 

The data center of the future is ripe for further growth and transformation. As-a-service models are expected to become more prevalent, with IDC forecasting that 65% of tech buyers will prioritize these models by 2026​​. This shift echoes the response to economic pressures and the need to fill talent gaps in IT operations.  

The growing importance of edge computing, driven by the need for faster data processing and reduced latency, also reshapes data center architecture. Gartner predicts data center teams will adopt cloud principles even for on-premises infrastructure to help optimize performance, management and cost. 

Sustainability will remain a key focus, with Gartner noting that 87% of business leaders plan to invest more in sustainability in the coming years​. This commitment is critical in reducing the environmental impact data centers will have, aligning their transformation with broader global efforts to combat climate change. This will allow organizations to demonstrate their commitment to ESG efforts as consumers look to differentiate between those that take real action and those that are simply greenwashing for marketing purposes. 

Envision the data center of tomorrow 

Data centers will continue transitioning from the monolithic configurations from yesteryear to become agile, high-powered, AI-driven, sustainable ecosystems distributed globally. They will mirror the broader evolution of technology, business and society, sometimes even leading the charge to a new frontier. The data center of the future will be at the center of innovation, efficiency and environmental responsibility, playing a critical role in shaping a sustainable digital world.  

Learn more about how IBM and VMware make it easier for enterprises to build and deploy AI applications in their modern data center. 

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