Jonathan Clarke, EMCJonathan Clarke, EMC

Data is immortal, and it is important for data infrastructure to be agile enough to accommodate that, says Mike Styer, NetApp South Africa country manager. “Data is now everlasting.”

Whether it is for regulatory reasons or competitive advantage, companies are amassing years’ worth of data, and the data infrastructure needs to be ready for it. To do this, companies need to be able to upgrade their infrastructure on the fly. It is important to have the ability to work on and repair systems without disruption.

Styer says service providers need to offer an agile data infrastructure because it’s what customers require. “If they’re not building agile data infrastructure, they won’t respond to the needs of their customers.”

Kobus , enterprise brand manager at Dell South Africa, concurs. “The data centre needs to become dynamic and agile so it can scale to accommodate changes like data growth and business needs.”

De Beer also comments that data needs to become fluid and “be tiered effectively”.

“Workload deployments and operational tasks need to be as automated as possible,” he adds, and efficiencies, like power and cooling, or space utilisation, must be easy to monitor.

Jonathan Clarke, strategic technology advisor at EMC Southern Africa, believes the emerging technology that has had the biggest positive impact on cloud computing is “a fully integrated and virtualised cloud infrastructure system, which enables active-active data centres over distances”.

He says these technologies allow clustered solutions to be built over distance, which, he says, creates “true mission-critical availability”, allowing for improved business continuity.

“Additional benefits include eliminating storage operations from failover, application mobility, and faster migrations and technology refreshes with no application downtime,” Clarke says. “Customers can relocate virtual machines, applications and data over distance without interrupting access, guaranteeing continuous uptime during load balancing, maintenance windows and data centre relocations.”

Another major positive change, he says, is federation “within storage arrays, between storage arrays and within and between data centre sites”.


De Beer believes the future of the data centre is convergence. “IT needs to continue driving a convergence strategy, but needs to remember that convergence is not just infrastructure.

Convergence is a path from infrastructure, management, and operational tasks, to . This will help deliver the agility of the data centre to become more dynamic.”

For this, says De Beer, connectivity is key. “This will help a drive toward the future data centre, where everything is converged, and heterogeneous support across the cloud is possible. Storage and compute will be ever present, regardless of where it is.”

Styer also says consolidation is the keyword for the data centre of the future. “The data centre of the future is going to be all single stack.”

The days of sourcing various products from different vendors are over, and in future, the customer will have a single point of contact, Styer explains. Vendors will continue to team up and collaborate to simplify products for the user. “The data centre will be commodity-based,” he says.

“I see the data centres in big enterprises remaining,” says Styer, but cloud computing has many opportunities in the small office/home office environment. For small businesses, there are more advantages to moving to cloud computing, and letting a service provider manage the data infrastructure.

Regarding the data centre of the future, Clarke says: “Smartification is a policy-based automation and machine learning innovation, which will enable seamless IT operation and workflow. It offers embedded compute, transform and analytics as well as domain management, RBAC , storage profiles and simple instrumentation.”

He says, going forward, vendors will be required to deliver secure dashboards that provide real-time, historical, and projected visibility into the performance of networks, systems, storage, and applications. He says this will “give IT professionals the ability to enable business change for a competitive advantage – whether it is capacity planning for private cloud deployments, reporting on the customer experience in mobile wireless networks, or measuring and reporting against service level agreements”.