Evolution of Data Center – Where is the battle for survival?

Thanks to a connection with Eleanor Wynn at Intel Developer Forum discussing social networking, I was invited as a business guest to Santa Fe Institute Business Network. The theme of this year’s event was evolution.  After two intense days and nights hanging around a bunch of PhD’s and business people who think about complex systems.

An Introduction

The Santa Fe Institute is a private, not-for-profit, independent research and education center founded in 1984, for multidisciplinary collaborations in the physical, biological, computational, and social sciences. Understanding of complex adaptive systems is critical to addressing key environmental, technological, biological, economic, and political challenges.

Renowned scientists and researchers come to Santa Fe Institute from universities, government agencies, research institutes, and private industry to collaborate in attempts to uncover the mechanisms that underlie the deep simplicity present in our complex world.

I have some ideas to write on the evolution of the data center.

Survival of fittest is a common term used in evolution and Darwin, and can be applied to the concept of an artificial system like data centers and IT.  Within an organization there is competition for resources and budget.  Where problems occur is when the competition becomes more internal vs. external resource battles.

Those organizations who fight mostly internal battles for survival with limited budget and resources are fighting for survival within the organization. Those organizations who focus on beating the competition for users/customers with IT services create models of what they should be doing to work together to win the scarce resources of customers and their money.The competition for survival with external competitors vs. internal competitors identifies those who model the effectiveness of their IT organizations efforts to support the business.

A clear focus on the impact to the business and customers, changes the evolution of IT.  Now if you are big enough you can throw enough money at IT so you do get the business benefits, but how much of the budget is going to feed the internal battles?  The internal battles will actually grow disconnected from business growth.  Which could be used to explain why IT budgets growth is a problem, and the answer is to limit the budgets.  This action can limit the growth of business and frustrate business units, but with limited resources in these times it is standard practice.

And who wins?  The companies who can allocate IT resources to win more customers.

It’s too bad we can’t have a PUE (power usage effectiveness) for IT systems.  How much is the total IT spend divided by the valued IT services to users?  I would bet most companies have IT PUE over 2.0. 

And the leaders of  IT PUE are Google and Amazon, because they are fighting battles for end users as a higher percentage vs. internal battles.