A new computing fabric to replace today's blade servers and a "pod" approach to building datacenters are two of the most disruptive technologies that will affect the enterprise datacenter in the next few years, Gartner said at its annual datacenter conference on Wednesday.
Datacenters increasingly will be built in separate zones or pods, rather than as one monolithic structure, Gartner analyst Carl Claunch said in a presentation about the Top 10 disruptive technologies affecting the datacenter.
[ For recent news on the modular design approach to datacenters read "Microsoft applies Model T factory methods to datacenters." ]
Those zones or pods will be built in a fashion similar to the modular datacenters sold in large shipping containers equipped with their own cooling systems. But datacenter pods don't have to be built within actual containers. The distinguishing features are that zones are built with different densities, reducing initial costs, and each pod or zone is self-contained with its own power feeds and cooling, Claunch says.
Cooling costs are minimized because chillers are closer to heat sources; and there is additional flexibility because a pod can be upgraded or repaired without necessitating downtime in other zones, Claunch said. (Read more about how to reduce cooling costs in the datacenter.)
"Modularization is a good thing. It gives you the ability to refresh continuously and have higher uptime," Claunch said.
By not treating a datacenter as a homogenous whole, it is easier to separate equipment into high, medium, and low heat densities, and devote expensive cooling only to the areas that really need it, Claunch added.
The move to pods and zones is among what Gartner calls the most disruptive technologies affecting the datacenter. In no particular order, these technologies are storage virtualization; cloud computing; new server architectures; PC virtualization; enterprise mashups; specialized systems (aka hardware appliances); social software, and social networking; unified communications; zones and pods; and green IT.
Many of these technologies have been covered by Gartner in previous lists (including "Gartner's Top 10 strategic technologies for 2008" and "10 strategic technologies for 2009"). Enterprises won't have to wait long to take advantage of these technologies: All these trends are beginning to happen now or will do so within the next few years, Claunch said.
If Gartner's predictions are correct, the server industry is soon to undergo a significant transformation.