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Do data center consolidation numbers signal start of cloud computing evolution?

More evidence of how software as a service and other forms of cloud computing are reshaping IT infrastructure is out this week in the form of IDC data showing that the number of data centers started shrinking in 2009.

That’s significant because the amount of data center capacity grew by about 1 percent in the same time frame, according to the IDC Datacenter 2012-2016 forecast.

The data center consolidation that began accelerating in 2009 is inspiring the closure of literally hundreds (if not thousands) of smaller remote locations, many of them smaller data center closets or server rooms. That trend will continue: the number of data centers in the United States will decline to about 2.89  million by 2016, compared with 2.94 million this year, according to the IDC predictions.

At the same time, individual data centers will get significantly bigger. Total data center space will grow to more than 700 million square feet in 2016 versus 611.4 million in 2012. Fewer locations plus more space means the average size of each data center is growing, although IDC doesn’t offer a figure in its press release about the report.

Cloud service providers are helping drive this shift and will account for more than one-quarter of all the U.S. data center capacity by the end of the forecast period.

“CIOs are increasingly being asked to improve business agility while reducing the cost of doing business through aggressive use of technologies in the data center,” said Rick Villara, vice president of Datacenter and Cloud Research at IDC. “At the same time, they have to ensure the integrity of the business and its information assets in the face of natural disasters, datacenter disruptions or local system failures. To achieve both sets of objectives, IT decision maker had to rethink their approach to the datacenter.”

The primary implications for technology solution providers are twofold.

Those who have been primarily focused on data center installations supporting branch offices of larger companies could see that business disappear during the consolidation movement, unless they focus on helping drive that consolidation in the first.

What’s more, the movement toward larger cloud service providers will mean that MSPs will need to keep adding value to their own infrastructure service offerings – or risk losing out to economies of scale.

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Good article. It might be in the battle of GOS versus HOS level backup, that there's another way to view the problem entirely: see Losing My Religion: Virtualization Dogma, Faith, and Fact (