Impact of Cloud Computing on Today’s Data Centers

The current cloud computing environment is creating increasing demands in the data center market which facility designers must address.

Data center research shows that nearly 70 percent of Americans have engaged in cloud computing in one form or another. This includes utilizing Web-based applications like email, data storage, word processing and other programs that are stored or powered by the cloud.

Current Cloud Computing Market
According to Pew Research, 69 percent of Americans connect with resources via the cloud. Of these individuals, 56 percent use email services including Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail. Another 34 percent store personal photos through a Web-powered portal and 29 percent utilize online applications such as Google Docs and Adobe Photoshop Express.

Overall, 40 percent of users have engaged in at least two of these activities, however, Pew Research pointed out that some of these individuals may not be aware that their online programs are included under the cloud computing umbrella.

“Most Internet users are unlikely to be aware of the term ‘cloud computing,'” the source stated. “But online Americans who use webmail services such as Hotmail or Google are taking advantage of data storage capabilities managed by a network of computers, which in turn permits access to a user’s email through whatever device he has at hand.”

This observation illustrates the important role of data centers in today’s growing cloud computing market. The increasing trend of users turning to the cloud for Web-based programs and capabilities creates new demands within the market, which data center operators must address in order to take advantage of the rapid growth within the cloud sector.

The Role of Data Centers in Cloud Computing
TechRepublic contributor Thoran Rodrigues echoed this finding, noting that cloud computing starts within data center facilities. Without data centers to fulfill the need for the hardware to store data and support applications, the current cloud computing environment would not be possible.

“Before the advent of today’s incredibly large and modular data centers, which require almost no hands-on management, selling computing resources to others would have been a nightmare,” Rodrigues wrote. “Not only would the cost of offering high availability be prohibitive for most customers, it might have very well been impossible to do so.”

In this way, data centers are vital to the current and future cloud computing environment. Within the current market, where users require increasing scalability, availability, resiliency and data security, data center designers must ensure that facilities have all the necessary resources to support these needs.

Data Center Requirements for Cloud Computing
Rodrigues stated that those within the data center design sector must incorporate the needs of cloud users into nearly every aspect of the structure in order to create the necessary capabilities for cloud providers to address user demands. One important aspect to consider is that of service uptime.

One main draw for users to utilize the cloud is service availability, where individuals have on-demand access to applications and content in the cloud. For this reason, the data center design of facilities must include the most up to date technology for optimum uptime. While availability to users is simply delineated by ‘up’ or ‘down,’ it creates a range of demands for data centers, including ensuring the structure has access to a continuous supply of energy.

To address this need, many data center designers make sure the facility has a primary and secondary power source. This sometimes requires owners to invest in generators or other data center power alternatives, which provide energy to the facility in the event that nearby utilities are unavailable.

Another attractive aspect of cloud services is the scalability, where users have the ability to increase capacity according to real-time requirements. However, this requires data center designers to take this growth into account before it ever occurs.

“Taken to its limit, the idea of (almost) unlimited scalability [offered] by a cloud service provider means that they must be constantly increasing available capacity, in order to be able to handle any increase in demand,” Rodrigues wrote. “Infrastructure providers need to be adding hundreds or even thousands of servers every single day to their data centers, not only to replace failing equipment, but also to provision against future demand.”

In this way, data center designers must be sure to not only create space for current needs, but to ensure that resources are available for future growth.