Corporate IT is in the midst of a revolution.

The immense scope of innovation in information technology over the last decade has meant that for the first time in a long time, IT is at the forefront of any discussion about corporate change. But beyond a few headlines about the cloud and big data and mobile, the new wave of IT has actually given leaders the chance to fundamentally rethink the way they run their IT operations.

Because when your people work in ways they never would have without mobile devices and the apps they use are provisioned in ways they never would have been without the cloud, you can either struggle to accept the change – or you can see it as an opportunity.

And nowhere is this opportunity more promising than in the datacenter. While it’s long been the natural bastion of IT’s capabilities, the inherent operational inefficiencies and costs associated with it have come to characterize the way business units view IT. So if the datacenter’s going to evolve, it will also evolve the way IT is viewed by the business.

And while it still isn’t clear what the datacenter of the future will look like, four key drivers will undoubtedly shape it.

  1. IT’s need for more time

According to a recent report by IDC, 70% of IT’s time is spent on day-to-day management operations like monitoring, troubleshooting, patching, updating and configuring resources. While all this activity is necessary for any company, it’s hard to justify the fact that your IT people need to do all these things themselves.

The datacenter of the future will have to incorporate software capabilities that replace the more basic, remedial tasks your people do. As a customer of an integrated datacenter system describes in the aforementioned report, “One of the things I’m looking for is anything that’s going to free up the IT guys. The staff we have are top notch and I don’t want to waste their time.”

  1. It’s need for lower costs

One of the biggest problems with operational efficiency in an outdated datacenter environment is the inability to drive down costs. When it’s challenging to even monitor the performance of a datacenter in relation to the work going into maintaining it, it’s nearly impossible to identify ways to lower costs without considering a complete overhaul.

A reduction in the man hours required for routine maintenance, for instance, wouldn’t just free up IT’s time for more pressing concerns – it would dramatically lower the inherent costs of a datacenter solution. But additionally, a rationalization of the amount of hardware needed would also enable IT to save money by reducing power usage and the cost of cooling huge machines.

  1. The business’ need for greater reliability

What makes IT’s constant efforts to just ‘keep the lights on’ so frustrating is that far too often it just isn’t enough. Respondents to the same report said the most time consuming part of their jobs was monitoring, troubleshooting and remediating issues. So when new problems rear their ugly heads over and over again, it’s bound to frustrate IT professionals.

To make sure such issues don’t interrupt business continuity, something will have to change. So the datacenter of the future will need to provide a simpler way to manage and report issues, with a particularly important need for rapid root cause analyses. The chief remit of the evolved datacenter will be to provide businesses with a more reliable way to work.

  1. The potential for data-driven business operations

With more than 90% of the world’s data being proliferated in the last three years alone, it’s hard to discount the ramifications of data and analytics on business. But while there’s never been more potential for data-driven decision-making, old datacenter architectures weren’t built for a world with big data in it.

As such, the evolution of the datacenter will necessarily be tailored to provision business-relevant data and analytic capabilities to people. From telematics to cloud-based collaboration apps we’re already seeing the rapid adoption of data-fueled tools for work. The most natural next step is for the datacenter to learn how to manage all this data.

It’s hard to predict what the datacenter of the future will look like, but one thing’s for sure – modern infrastructure must start by serving IT better, so that IT can serve your people better.