In the always-exciting and ever-changing world of Information Technology, cloud computing is the biggest buzz word of the decade. It’s no wonder with increasing internet connection speeds, growth of mobile devices and a continuous demand for cheaper processing power and storage that data centers – the home of cloud computing — around the world have rapidly expanded to meet consumer needs.
The major boom for the tech industry, and data centers in particular, came during the dot-com bubble of the late 90′s. Internet start-ups depended on 24/7 connections and fast speeds to deliver new services to online customers. Unfortunately, the advanced skills and equipment necessary for installing such reliable setups were a source of frustration for small companies. Enter the data centers.
Newly set up data centers began to offer small businesses highly dependable servers that could quickly be scaled up as their industry expanded. As entities that offered online shopping, internet gaming and other forms of online transactions grew in the coming decade, so did their hosts that maintained the servers.
The Giants Move In
Today, the largest customer base for cloud computing has shifted away from smaller start-ups to mega corporations, institutions and governments. Because the services offered by data centers are charged on a pay-per-use model, large organizations can quickly purchase more capacity as they need it and scale it back down when demand is low. This offloading of hardware expertise to third-parties has minimized risk and lowered the costs of doing business online.
Thanks to this built in flexibility, prominent tech giants with insatiable bandwidth appetites like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and YouTube have all embraced the cloud. For processor hungry scientific computing, medical research and engineering simulation companies have turned to Amazon’s low cost offerings. General consumers are rapidly embracing the brave new world of sharing their personal images and videos through online services like YouTube and Facebook.
The increasing popularity of using data centers to store sensitive information has also lead to a closer scrutiny into the IT industry. News reports of hackers intruding into the risqué photographs and scandalous emails of Hollywood celebrities and Washington politicians alike have brought the issue of network security into mainstream chatter. Environmentalists have also brought up the issue of high energy demands facing data centers.
To counter the perceived threat of unreliable security, network admins at major data centers have employed increasingly sophisticated monitoring and management software to protect critical systems. As the need for online security has grown, so have the companies and tools that specialize in providing IT professionals the tools to combat hackers.
Innovations in the field of processor architecture by Intel, IBM and others, have continued to lower the energy usage per unit of processing. Some data centers have even been moved to chilly Scandinavian nations like Iceland to take advantage of lower air conditioning bills. Others like Google have toyed with the idea of deploying data centers in barges out at sea to improve cooling needs.
Thanks to rapid advances in computing, along with increasing consumer trust in storing information online, data centers today are experiencing a boon in business. Cloud-centric giants like Google and Amazon continue to grow as innovative new services are offered to consumers. Together, these facts point to major new business models and clients for data centers that can successfully navigate the opportunities ahead.