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Data center outlook is cloudy, research says

Telecommunications companies, ISPs, colocation providers and the like are the backbone of the modern enterprise network. Without these basic service offerings, businesses would be hard-pressed to leverage all available technological advancements.

A recent study from Infonetics Research found that these service providers generally view cloud computing as one of the most important innovations for the near future, while virtualization overall is also considered a top priority.

"Service providers seeking to bolster their financial picture and gain a piece of the cloud service revenue pie are leveraging a captive customer base and expanding data center offerings to include virtualization technologies and even new networking facilities like fiber channel over Ethernet," directing analyst Sam Barnett said in a statement.

The biggest data centers, the researchers found, will be the ones that will grow the most noticeably in terms of cloud capabilities over the next two years. However, all but the smallest providers are likely to become more active in the cloud to at least some degree.

Fueling this large-scale move into cloud computing, according to Infonetics, is the combination of network convergence and virtualization. These technologies are the catalyst for the type of capacity growth that providers need in order to offer cloud-based services.

What's more, the services themselves are likely to develop and change significantly in the next year or so, the researchers said. Two new data center application strategies were found to be particularly prominent in the plans of service providers. The first was app replication across multiple data centers, "such as is common with airline reservations systems," Infonetics reported. Plans for the use of fully virtualized infrastructure to run applications were also frequently seen.

While the data are undoubtedly important to the future of the IT Infrastructure services industry, Talkin' Cloud expert Matthew Weinberger noted that the results of the research should come as no surprise to long-time observers of the sector.

A wide array of companies have jumped head-first into the cloud computing services market in recent months, and the technology has become more or less the primary concern of most businesses in the data center industry, according to Weinberger. He did note, however, that the study's prediction of major growth in the Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service sectors was potentially big news.