The changes in the way we think about data storage and application sharing etc. continues to dominate much of the dicsussion around IT infrastructure. Spurred on by the need for greater agility in the way we manage services, the rising cost of electricity and the significant costs of keeping up to date with storage demands, the move towards infrastructure as a service (a.k.a. cloud computing) is gaining momentum.
I came across an article this week in the Datacenter Journal that explains a lot of what is happening in this space in (relatively) easy to understand terms. Titled The Datacenter of the Future – What Was Once Old Is Now New Again, the article traces the move from centralised ‘bureau’-style provision of services in the 60’s nd 70’s to the use of high powered desktops in the 80’s and 90’s and now back to a more centralised approach again, where desktop computers are now more powerful and readily available allowing a time-sharing approach to evolve into client server computing, meaning applications can now be distributed between a desk-top computer and a back-end server.
For most teachers all of this may seem a long way removed from the day to day workings of a classroom, but for those making decisions about how our schools are cabled and connected (includes BOTs, principals, ICT managers, Ministry personnel and politicians) there are some particularly big leaps of understanding (and courage) required to embrace where this is leading.
The current moves (albeit very slow, fragmented and under-resourced) to get our schools connected to an advanced network is one piece of the puzzle – although there is still some debate over the best way to achieve this. But once this is achieved we must be planning now for helping schools realise the full benefit they might achieve through thinking differently about how and where the applications and services they use are housed, who owns them, who manages them, how they are paid for etc.
Seems that in addition to the current promise of bigger investment in broadband roll-out, we’ve (as a nation) got some pretty big decisions to make about the provisioning of data centres as outlined in this article – private enterprise is sure to pick up some of this, but in the public service alone there are vast quantities of data that are stored, managed and accessed – and the systems they are currently housed on are (as I understand) all up for replacement in the next 3-5 years. With power consumption being a significant (and increasing) factor to consider, perhaps we should be looking at locating super-scale data centres on the shores of Lake Benmore (for instance) where they draw power directly from the generation source??
MMmmm – so much to contemplate. The need to think strategically about an end-to-end solution is so vital. Sadly, so much of what I see happening at the moment tends to focus only on the parts of the puzzle, and not on the picture on the box.