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The “Data Center” of the Future

A visual model of the Data Center of the Future: Coffee Maker insides after years of use.

I just read through Network World’sHow a data center works, today and tomorrow” (see

They feel ‘The future of data centers will rely on cloud, hyperconverged infrastructure and more powerful components’.

I partly agree, and partly disagree.

The IT business cycle is well known: IT starts as a centralized department, becomes a bottleneck, other departments set up their own IT for operational survival, the uncoordinated small IT becomes unmanageable, policy swings back to standardizing and centralizing IT, and the cycle repeats. So “Data Centers” will be centralized, then distributed, then centralized again … likely forever at the corporate level.

The controlling force will not be commercial dominance: no one company will succeed at becoming the global “Data Center Hegemon” – grass roots, open source, widely varied people driven interests will take over IN SPITE of corporate attempts to “own” the Data Center scene. The “Data Centers” inside large organizations will be a tiny part of the planetary Data Center.

Photo of a Nest Thermostat in The Bond Building. 20 June 2013, 11:54:32 by Amanitamano

I also disagree that the Data Center of the future will be composed mostly of more powerful things, rather I feel that it will be made up of far less powerful things, redundant, error correcting, in massive numbers, using cooperative computing protocols, to become a massive unified computing power. As each cell in a human body is little by itself, coordinated together all the cells form a much more significant and powerful organism: an organism that can loose many cells, survive, heal, and grow. No single corporation, or corporate alliance, can approach this potential because of management, legal, contractual, and financial encumbrances. The Data Center’s life blood is network connectivity and its future body will be shaped accordingly.

All technologies must eventually inter-operate, and those which do not will be relegated to irrelevance, but most of this will be from non-corporate innovation, not for profit initiatives. There will likely be government attempts initiated by corporate influence to eradicate all “unauthorized” software on some pretense: any software not sold by “authorized” programmers, such as that created by programmers not under corporate control and released for the public good without mandated government “back doors” or for profit motives may even be criminalized. Public software will not only survive but it will grow and the attempts to destroy it will drive it underground, improve it, increase its sophistication, and make it harder, not easier, to oppose.

And yes, I believe some large corporations will contribute to the process, which will eventually be overwhelmed and confiscated by massive grass roots factors, gently, slowly, imperceptibly until it is too late. The surviving Corporations will be the ones which recognize this from the start and design to work together with rather than oppose global communications.

There will always be “free public cloud” ( that is, network based file and app servers), sometimes  bootlegged inside ‘secure’ corporate systems, but there will be much more storage a kilobyte at a time from mundane and ignored things such as Mom’s pacemaker or Uncle Joe’s radio all coordinated by Harriot’s thermostat. IoT device security and control will improve accordingly. Remember BitCoin. In the future, my FitBit may be harboring 1% of your favorite vacation picture for you – but don’t worry, if I upgrade my watch Harry’s fish locator and Mary’s microwave have redundant copies just in case.

The idea that people in mass will keep their most private data on a server owned by some for profit entity that will turn everything over to secret government agencies or marketers at a whim is unworkable until people have absolute confidence that their private data will remain absolutely private NO MATTER WHAT. This can never happen with any ownership of centralized “Cloud” services because government can and will seize those centralized computers if they think it necessary.

Reading, gaming, sleeping… All in Kyiv subway by teteria sonnna from Obukhiv, Ukraine

There will probably be significant human influencers wearing rags and living in dilapidated buildings or on the streets as well as those wearing jeans or tuxedos and living in middle-class homes or skyscrapers. BOT nets will no longer be merely for mafia profits, ransomware,  and spam generators but will be a means to suborn “secure” private networks or effect communications kept temporarily private from “official” corporate or government eyes.

The “Data Center” of the future will not be one place but every place. It will be connected by multiple redundant means to circumvent corporate power to use government to silence profit syphoning opposition. It will not look like a ‘Max Headroom’ dystopia but free open source software will be critical in its reliable operation even though specific corporate proprietary software will also be present.

And the one thing we can count on is that it will be constantly changing all of the time. How can for profit corporate interests survive or thrive in this new world? Easy, simply make your corporation indispensable to the victors.