The unprecedented capacity requirements of large social media, search, colocation and cloud companies are driving massive investments in data center development. The organizations creating this capacity are continually experimenting with new technologies and designs to push the limits of data center performance while driving down costs.
Their scale, individually and collectively, has the potential to drive significant change in the data center industry. It allows them to work with their vendors on custom designs and solutions specific to their needs, bringing new solutions to the market. It also gives them the ability to test multiple designs simultaneously, often within the same facility, to determine which best meets their demands for flexibility, speed and reliability at the lowest cost. While some of the designs and technologies that emerge from this development will be specific to the largest data centers, others will have broad applicability.
In fact, these large developers and operators are creating a new generation of data centers that continue to change the landscape of the industry. Just as the mainframe generation gave way to the client/server generation, the client/server generation is now being replaced by the cloud generation (Figure 1). This generation of data centers is marked by a philosophy of deploying only “what is needed, when it’s needed” to support a particular application or set of applications fast and efficiently.