Server equipment is currently undergoing an interesting transition. Data center operations have driven interest in virtualization and software-defined networks to make infrastructure facilities more agile and adaptable. Servers continue to be integral to data center operations; however specific types, as well as the server equipment associated with infrastructure support and management tools, may change. The abstraction of hardware from software could create a potential space for server equipment innovation. This allows more room and progression for IT innovators in design, configuration and utilization.
Server Equipment Market Turns Inward
According to a recent research by TheInfoPro, virtualization and software-defined networking may result in a decline in server purchasing, however, management and converged infrastructure spending is likely to see a boost. While 41 percent of the respondents in the survey projected less spending on x86 rack-format servers in 2014, micro servers which are publicized as the future of server architectures will gain little market traction. As cloud-ready data centers become a more common priority, software spending is expected to rise across the board for 2014. The market for converged infrastructure and unified computing will continue to benefit from the drive toward more agile facilities. In 2013, automation and management were the top areas of spending and will continue to be in the top for 2014.
Will ARM Co-Exist with x86 Servers?
To this day, the x86 servers are the dominant server equipment used in data centers; however, there could be a shift in their status quo. According to Graeme Caldwell, a Data Center Knowledge contributor, the rise of the data-centric enterprise is putting an increased strain on the x86 architecture. This traditional infrastructure lacks the scalability characteristic of other data center technologies, such as cloud computing and virtualization. Servers are the foundational elements of the data center and can hold the facility back from energy efficiency. If they remain grounded in traditional configurations, it can lead to better management and productivity.
“[T]here is also an inward pressure that incentivizes a radical change to the way we think about building servers and architecting data centers,” wrote Caldwell. “Data is currently too expensive to manage, both in terms of infrastructure investment and power consumption.”
ARM system-on-a-chip components could help drive a data center’s server equipment scalability. The SoCs lacks the processing capacity of a full server, but the clustering of multiple SoC units into existing servers can greatly exceed the power processing of legacy architectures. Several leading x86 server manufacturers have already turned toward the integration of ARM SoCs into their offerings.