In the future, data center management will be less about hardware and more about delivering services to the end customer, says David Cappuccio, vice president, distinguished analyst and chief of research for data centers at Gartner.
“When a customer says, ‘I need a new service,’ the next question needs to be not ‘how do we make it fit within our existing infrastructure?’ but ‘how do we find it?’ And, how do we find it within the constraints of the agency, whether it’s audit or compliance control or whatever. If I can find a provider that meets those constraints and can perform that service quicker, I’ll use them instead.”
The likely scenario for accomplishing all of that can be found in a hybrid approach, he says, where some services are best delivered from within an existing agency-run data center while others may be accessible via third-party managed private and public clouds.
The transition will involve some hard truths.
With services running across numerous vendors, customers will look to the internal data center staff for help when they’re unhappy, Cappuccio says.
“You’ll need to have staff who can figure out, from end to end, how that workload is running and how it’s tied together. So the tools change, the processes change, the skill levels change, and IT changes.”
Personnel who understand cloud integration are a rare and high-commodity resource, so it’s likely that agencies will be required to develop their own specialists through trial and error.
Horizontal skills should include the ability to negotiate with vendors, effectively integrate external providers with internal services and systems and accurately define key performance indicators (KPIs) while monitoring them in real time. “Some people call this role ‘a cloud broker,’ but it’s much more than that,” Cappuccio says. “That function will only become more difficult as more vendors and services are added and the environment becomes more and more complicated.”
Check out more about the future of the data center here.