Virtualization isn’t the next big thing – because it was the last big thing.  Virtualization is incredibly important and has laid the foundation for both non-cloud- and cloud-based workloads – but the real challenge to data center architects and IT staff isn’t figuring out whether virtualization, clouds, data growth, and other trends are important – everyone knows that these trends are there and are accelerating.

The challenge for the next generation data center is striking a balance between automation, agility, and adaptability.  In this series we’ve examined a number of potential candidates for the “next big thing” – but the truth is that anticipating the future is rarely easy and is fraught with pitfalls.  Rigid architectural frameworks, vendor lock-in, selecting one technology and placing all of your bets on it can work in the short-term – but put you at a dramatic competitive disadvantage when change eventually comes.  And just about the only prediction which is always 100% true for the IT staff creating and operating current and next generation data centers is that change is coming – and that change will be full of surprises.

I’ve always liked the cartoon above – because it explicitly depicts what often is the implicit operating strategy of so many businesses.  It’s a simple drawing that acts as a cautionary tale – at least in IT, there’s little magic in the world – except for the magic that happens when IT leaders adopt and embrace an adaptable, agile approach to next generation (and the generation beyond that) of data center design.

This is part 15 and the conclusion of an on-going series. Part 1: virtualization isn’t the next big thing (NBT) because it was the last big thing (LBT); part 2: data center IP traffic growth; part 3: data center IP traffic sources; part 4: cloud workloads; part 5: large data centers and administrator to server ratios; part 6: strategy overview – adapt or be crushed; part 7: automation, agility, adaptability;  part 8, automation vs agility and adaptability; part 9: virtualizing everything; part 10: bare metal cloud; part 11: bare metal cloud performance; part 12: SSDs; part 13: unified systems; part 14: commodity hardware; part 15: software-defined everything (SDx or SDE).