Digital Transformation in the Data Center

Introduction: Roadblocks & On-Ramps

Digital Transformation is about the reinvention of a business to reposition it at the forefront of the fast-moving digital age. This publication addresses a crucial part of this process: how can the data center contribute? Technology is pivotal to the transformation but the technology itself is not the strategy, it is just the facilitator. However, it is often seen as one of the biggest roadblocks on the route to success:

  • In June 2016 a Harvard Business Review study found that 52% of respondents felt that ‘persistent ties to legacy systems’ created the greatest barrier to digital transformation
  • In October 2017 the annual Global CIO survey by Logicalis Group stated that 44% of respondents felt complex legacy technology is the chief barrier to digital transformation. 51% said they planned to adapt or replace existing infrastructure as a means of accelerating digital transformation
  • In December 2017 a UK-based Ensono survey commissioned by the Cloud Industry Forum found that 52% of organisations blamed IT infrastructure for delays to their digital transformation.
  • The same study found that 89% believe that legacy technology is a barrier to digital transformation, with 46% believing that changes to legacy systems would cause major business disruption, and 40% believing it would be cost-prohibitive to replace.

Now that the build versus buy data center debate is over, and the economics and elasticity of the cloud has transformed the consumption of compute power, the answer to these challenges clearly lies in the carrier-neutral cloud data center. In the right hyper-connected facility a hybrid cloud architecture can be put in place which can ringfence or backhaul to established and stable legacy tools and systems while building out high-speed secure on-ramps to public and private clouds.

The question remains: What sort of facility can best support the migration, operation and expansion of next generation services? This brief study of critical infrastructure considerations on the digital transformation journey looks at the key points where an advanced infrastructure provider can become a transformation enabler.  Focus areas include delivery on connectivity as processing moves closer to the user edge; facilitating and accelerating what can be a complicated cloud journey; underpinning business agility by creating new revenue and partnership opportunities; and demonstrating a long-term commitment to efficiency, growth, partnership and customer value.


What your organisation needs to know

The General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] – the EU’s new regulation covering protection of personal data – becomes law in May next year. The new legislation tackles inconsistencies in the current data security landscape and tries to ensure the secure free flow of data between member states while protecting the personal data of EU citizens.

Not everyone is ready. According to Gartner, more than 50 percent of companies affected by the GDPR will not be in full compliance with its requirements by the deadline.

This could be costly. Failure to meet the GDPR’s standards could lead to fines of up to €20 million or 4% of your global annual turnover. If you do not have a full plan yet you need to make one and start implementing it soon.

There is a lot of information circulating about what you need to do, which is useful but also potentially confusing. So we have prepared this step-by-step overview of the process addressing the key things you should consider and actions you could take.

As experts in the physical hosting of the affected data, we believe that data center operators should take a proactive role, offering support and advice wherever possible. So, in addition to providing this planning paper we offer GDPR-specific consultancy for companies to support their ongoing assessment, planning and implementation efforts on the data floor.

Eric Boonstra
CEO, EvoSwitch


Artificial Intelligence is more than ‘the next big thing.’
The potential for computers to outsmart humans is hardwired into our culture and consciousness, and all the indications are that we are living in the final days of our intellectual supremacy.

Estimated in terms of computations per second per $1,000,
computers overtook the mouse brain in 2015, putting them at
about a thousandth of the human level. This doesn’t sound like
much until you remember that we were at around a trillionth in
1985. The current trajectory will see Artificial Intelligence overtake
the human brain affordably by 2025. While the learning and
improvement mechanisms necessary to make that intelligence
general rather than specific still require work – most current
forecasts for superior general artificial intelligence come around
a decade later, around 2035. At this point the speed of AI
improvement will be such that computers will whizz past us,
making us almost infinitely ‘stupider’ in a matter of months.

The major existential issues raised by this critical event in human
history will not be addressed in this paper. Instead, it will focus
on what is commercially achievable with AI as it stands today:

– What are the currently available AI technologies and what
commercial impact are they having?
– What are the potential benefits of these technologies
to businesses based in cloud-connected data centers?
– Are these benefits significant enough to justify a shift
to AI-driven applications?
– If they are, what needs to be done by way of preparation
and planning?


Part One of ‘How to Build a Better Cloud’ covered the planning phase – business needs assessment and outcomes definition, service catalog creation and delivery model analysis, readiness and interoperability assessment and internal engagement for a hybrid cloud journey.

This paper covers the next steps, setting out some of the key considerations when putting these plans into practice. Where to build your private cloud so that it interconnects seamlessly with your public cloud partners and applications.

Accessing the cloud marketplace. What to look for in cloud providers and implementation partners. How to avoid lock-in and ensure maximum flexibility and the best possible management and performance. The topics covered here are intended to give IT Directors, CIOs and CTOs, reminders and ideas, with access through online sources and further reading to deeper information. However, they are also meant to be accessible for non-technical senior managers who are embarking on the hybrid cloud journey. As pointed out in Part One, the cloud presents new business opportunities in every functional area, and requires a closer level of cooperation and understanding between IT and the rest of the organization than ever before.

Cloud drives cultural change. For the most ambitious businesses, it can be the foundation for a process of digital transformation. A shared understanding of the key moving parts of the cloud is a useful starting point for the new habits, discussions and creative interactions that will take place on this journey.


We are in the middle of the cloud revolution. In 2016 the cloud accounted for over 50% of IT spend (Gartner), and now, in 2017, over 50% of companies are operating in the cloud. For those not yet fully in the cloud, it is often the complexities of establishing a robust but agile hybrid cloud architecture that have delayed the move. These are the businesses this paper is designed to help.

This paper is intended to give IT Directors, CIOs and CTOs, reminders and ideas, with access through online sources and further reading to deeper information, it is also meant to work as an introduction for non-technical senior managers. The paper has been structured as a framework for the planning (Part 1) and implementation (Part 2) phases, with tips based on what has gone before and a snapshot of the sort of things you need to consider, learn about and do in order to research, develop, build and move into a hybrid model that works hard for − and can transform − your business.


In recent years, the data center industry has made excellent progress in enhancing energy efficiency and adopting renewable power sources.
There are also many innovative new solutions in development. However,
there are still major challenges in this area that we have yet to overcome:

  • The improvements are in new builds. Legacy data centers are hard to upgrade
  • PUE while useful has intrinsic flaws as used by the industry
  • Not all renewables are equal

There is also another equally important dimension to sustainability; full cradle
to grave environmental impact. Data center operators should expand their
sustainability programs to encompass this by:

  •  Offering proactive advice on power consumption at the data floor level
  • Helping to tackle embodied impact rather than just operational impact
  • Pushing for more transparent universal standards which make it easier for customers to make informed choices.



As well as state-of-the-art technology, servers contain valuable,
and toxic, materials, and server owners are obliged under
current legislation to dispose of them responsibly. However,
the current reuse and recycling stages of the product lifecycle
leave a lot to be desired. This paper, based on a Master’s Thesis
conducted with EvoSwitch support by the University Utrecht,
looks at the Amsterdam Region. It argues that, at both the reuse
and recycling stages of the server lifecycle, improvements can be
made which would deliver both commercial and environmental
benefits. The principle proposed changes/subjects for further
discussion would be improved life cycle analysis and specification
development at procurement, reduced shredding and
increased dismantling/reuse at end of first owner use, and a new
trackable reuse business model which keeps valuable materials
and components in the region.

EvoSwitch 2020 Data Center Vision

Executive Summary

The growing maturity of the cloud will generate significant business opportunities powered by converged IT solutions (compute/storage/network) driven by huge amounts of data generated by thousands, or even millions, of devices.  To take advantage of these opportunities, businesses will migrate their data to carrier-and-cloud-neutral data centers where they can ensure best price, best service and maximum agility by:

  • Maintaining secure, fast connections to public clouds. Direct access to the main cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, Google) will be a must have, but vendor lock-in will always be a concern, so choice and ease of migration are key
  • Building their own ecosystems – an increasingly sophisticated and flexible hybrid cloud solution using an array of networks, exchanges , cloud infrastructure and specialist service providers
  • Transforming the business into a cloud service provider – establishing their own cloud services using open source cloud development partners
  • Developing flexible data architecture; picking and choosing from an increasing range of software-defined infrastructure options
  • Orchestrating a range of comparatively complex and overlapping mixed security solutions.
  • Demanding the highest standards of efficiency and compliance at a data center level. This will involve talking less about m2, kW and UPS, although the undercurrent will be towards denser processing, a smaller environmental footprint and more efficient power management
  • Building a strategic partnership with their data center provider. The successful data center skillset will expand to include consultancy; guiding clients through the permanently evolving ecosystem , constantly looking for competitive advantages, thereby enabling enterprises to get maximum value from the data center and connected ecosystem.