When you think about a data center, you likely imagine a large building with diesel generators. Inside, you probably picture racks full of servers and networking equipment, raised floors, cable trays and well-positioned ventilation. After all the hours that I have spent in data centers, thoughts like this actually make me feel cold.
So, what truly defines the physical data center? Is it really defined by what we physically see when we step inside? Thousands of data centers may use the same network switches, but any two are rarely the same.
Purpose-built hardware provides a way to execute code-and-relay data. What makes it unique is software or the device configuration. Every data center has a core router, but the configuration of that device is what makes the router unique. The physical device is simply a conduit for executing the function, as defined by the software. Although the physical aspects of a data center have not changed much, the amount of end-user systems that directly touch the components has decreased dramatically.
Virtualization changed the way we defined the data center. The data center is no longer just a room of hardware, but a room of meta data about applications and services. To read more on this shift in data center thinking, please read my TechTarget article “How the software-defined data center changes the virtualization game“, then come back here and leave a comment to tell me what you think.