Data center

Five emerging trends for data center networking: Harnath Babu, KPMG in India

KPMG International Co-operative is a multinational professional services network, and one of the Big Four accounting organizations. Seated in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, KPMG is a network of firms in 147 countries, with over 219,000 employees and has three lines of services: financial audit, tax, and advisory.

Here, Harnath Babu, CIO, KPMG in India, talks about what to expect for data centers in 2020 and beyond. Excerpts from an interview:


DQ: What are the five emerging trends for data center networking in 2020+?

Harnath Babu: With the rapid adoption of cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and over-the-top high quality, bandwidth-hungry content combined with the need to maintain network security, we can see how the data center networking industry is undergoing an enormous change. Listed below are some of the trends that I believe are set to have a huge impact on data center networking:

Edge computing: With the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) and applications requiring real-time computing power, the need for edge-computing systems is also increasing these days. Edge data centers are also being used to extend network reach and improve speed, providing powerful processing resources that can handle tasks that are huge for IoT devices.

Software-defined network: Perhaps, one of the major trends in data center networking has been the widespread push of software-defined networking (SDN). By giving the ability to enterprises to manage and provision network services from a centralised location, it enables them to deploy applications quickly as well as reduce the cost of deployment.

Network functions virtualization: Another trend making way in data center networking industry is the network functions virtualization (NFV). With this, we can turn legacy networks in favour of a software-based networking approach – enabling resources to be provisioned faster and efficiently to support scalability.

Hybrid and multi-cloud: Going forward, enterprises will follow hybrid and multi-cloud approach to manage the demand for flexible network with connectivity requirement between workloads and customer demands.

5G infrastructure: With the evolution in datacenter networking industry, we will see 5G technology making a way in select markets and delivering lightning-fast services.

As data center technologies continue to advance, these trends are most likely to give way to some remarkable developments that will drive innovation a notch higher.

DQ: How is the market now for adoption of hybrid cloud and data center virtualization?

Harnath Babu: Cloud computing is one of the most significant next-gen data center trends affecting businesses today. Therefore, most of the organisations these days are adopting the cloud-first strategy, thereby moving most of their workloads from on-premise to cloud which gives them the benefit of agility as well as on-demand scalability.

While this has worked out well for some, there are several companies that are apprehensive about migrating to the cloud due to security concerns as well as expenses of operating in a public cloud environment. In such a scenario, adopting hybrid cloud is one of the best approaches that gives businesses greater flexibility and more data deployment options.

With this approach, it’s easier for businesses to deploy System of Records (SOR) on premise as these hold sensitive data and have specific requirements for data privacy and infrastructure redundancy; and System of Engagement (SOE) on cloud that require flexibility, ease of deployment and continued services.

That being said, embracing software-defined data center/data center virtualization remains a key priority to help organisations significantly improve IT agility.

DQ: How are you rebalancing your provision of data center services, colocation and capacity management?

Harnath Babu: We have modernised our entire data center environment, and moved to a co-located hybrid cloud model that can be accessed easily as well as scaled to meet the demands for computing power. It is currently being utilised for production and several other environments. While the workloads that require high agility are deployed on-premise, several applications and collaboration capabilities are on cloud.

DQ: How are you updating DR plans to reflect this new world of vendor-distributed work?

Harnath Babu: For an enterprise, a comprehensive business continuity plan (BCP) includes all of the critical aspects to run the business including the vendor’s plan and management.

At KPMG in India, we identified critical components for the continued provision of IT systems and services and engaged with the service providers to have proper disaster recovery systems and business continuity plans to help ensure that the operations are not impacted.

DQ: Are you looking at remote management of data centers?

Harnath Babu: As we witness a surge in remote work with stay-at-home orders due to Covid-19, maintaining access to data center infrastructure and the essential communications is more important than ever. Performing routine and preventative maintenance, upgrading capacity, managing vendors as well as addressing technical issues as and when they occur remains critical to help ensure efficient business continuity.

Demands for remote management of data centers were already necessitating and shaping with the strategical direction of the firm after adoption of cloud computing and services. With remote working especially for handling critical services like data center, we have all the necessary security controls in place for remote access. Along with these solutions, we are also keen to look into new technology which can provide a consolidated all-layered approach to monitor, analyze and automate these services.

DQ: Demand for cloud services will soar in some sectors, but wither in other verticals. Which sectors, specifically?

Harnath Babu: Demand for cloud services is increasing manifold with the emergence of new business environment in the wake of Covid-19. Some of the sectors that will see an increase in the demand include professional services firms, knowledge workers, IT services industry, over-the-top content creators, telecommunications, education industry, e-commerce/online retailers, banking and insurance, as well as manufacturing.

DQ: How are CIOs looking at data centers in/post Covid-19?

Harnath Babu: Covid-19 has transformed the business landscape across industries, and data centers are no exception. As working remotely becomes the new normal, there is bound to be an increased demand of not only internet bandwidth but also video conferencing platforms, document collaboration tools, digital payment platforms and online learning – leading to proliferation of cloud adoption for business continuity, workforce enablement, as well as to de-risk operations.

Looking ahead of the Covid-19 era, CIOs will consider accelerating migration from data centers to cloud, network and modern IT infrastructure while adapting to the new normal. This would require enterprises to build their own digital strategy while considering cloud-native solutions along with anywhere connectivity and hybrid multi-cloud architecture to meet the ever-evolving business requirements.

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