If you are in the data center business, it’s likely that you have already heard of AFCOM, together with the Data Center Institute, Data Center Management Magazine, and regular Data Center World events.

Targeting the praiseworthy goals of data center news, education, and peer-to-peer networking for its members, this organization has been in action since 1980. Counted in Internet years, that makes it venerable indeed.

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The Only DC Constant is Change

The organization continues to monitor and comment on the data center industry today, as it has done since the days of the central mainframe.

AFCOM originally stood for the ‘Association of Computer Operations Management’, when the mainframe was the data center and vice versa.

Since then, data center roles have changed and multiplied, but the organization’s name has stayed the same, capitalizing on brand recognition won over the years. In fact, its name is a constant reminder that change is a fundamental feature of DCs and all that gravitates around them.

The Changing Data Center Story So Far

The Association of Computer Operations Management was born into and has tracked an era of data center change.

When air-cooled computers became available for normal office installations in the late 1970s, many observers proclaimed the ‘death of the data center’ and the specially cooled mainframe. The 1980s saw computer installation everywhere, with little attention paid to the organization.

However, when IT operations became larger and more complex, companies realized more control was necessary. Data centers burgeoned again in the 1990s with server rooms, fast network links, and the dot-com bubble. After a hiccup (the bubble burst), larger and larger facilities were built, resulting in today’s enterprise-owned or leased data centers, public cloud facilities, and data center colocation services.

Top of Mind Right Now

Today the research arm, Data Center Institute, investigates trends and developments to bring them to the attention of DC managers around the globe. Items under discussion at the time of writing include:

  • large scale data migration between DCs
  • DC security
  • heating and cooling challenges for smaller DCs
  • data center lease agreements and how to use them
  • disaster preparedness
  • comatose servers 

If some of these items look familiar, it’s probably because they represent problems that data centers must continue to address, but for which the solutions also continually evolve as DCs themselves change.

What about the last item on the list? The description of a DC server as ‘comatose’ refers to a machine that is still deployed but without being actively tracked. Such situations may come from projects ending or business processes changing.

What is striking is that as many as 30 percent of DC servers may be in this ‘comatose’ state: an unwelcome change from the ideal of the super-efficient data center, but nonetheless, a change that needs to be flagged.

What Else Might You Find Out?

There are several AFCOM resources that can help you stay up-to-date with other hot data center items and current trends, such as:

  • DC carbon emissions
  • software-defined data centers
  • virtualized security technologies
  • converged and hyper-converged infrastructures
  • disaggregated systems
  • rapid flash storage adoption

The digital library offers text-based information, and the Local Chapter Program fosters networking. The Meet-A-Member Series allows data center managers to sit in on live phone discussions of DC-centric topics and consult archived discussions.

What resources are most useful for keeping up with data center industry developments? Tell us about your preference in the Comments section below.

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