Our industry seems to have become much more complicated since Mission Critical's first issues.  At least that's how it appeared to me after reviewing a few of our first issues from less than 3 years ago. In those early issues, we discussed rising temperatures in the data center, reliability concerns, safety concerns, and equipment selection. We also covered some early developments in the Green Grid, ITIL, and the newly issued EPA Report to Congress.

Guess what? In our most recent issues we have been covering many of the same topics, which indicates that many data centers still have concerns about keeping IT operational and their data centers online. As Dennis Cronin recently complained in our pages, often we are still using data compiled years ago to make decisions about modern facilities.

Using old data is one way of making life harder, but according to Peter Curtis, industry has also conspired against itself by failing in the past to provide enough training and to attract enough qualified personnel. Lack of qualified help, of course, is another impediment to keeping data centers online.

Mission Critical has recruited Andy Lane to write a column specifically on the matter of personnel to help the industry meet its personnel challenges. The column, first called Talent Matters, debuted in our May-June 2010 issue. I'm sure Andy will join Peter in highlighting best practices for training, recruiting, and training first-class personnel, even in this economy. This shortage of experienced personnel seems only to have gotten worse since 2007, and that's just one way the industry has changed.

Perhaps because of the Green Grid and that 2007 EPA report, data center owners and operators are now much more energy conscious. As a result, we've gone beyond hot and cold aisles to containment, and then beyond containment to containers so that mass numbers of servers can be deployed nearly simultaneously. The uptake of these technologies, at least in high-density data centers, has been breathtaking.

These, at least, were technology based solutions, readily understood by the people who actually build and run facilities. We can realistically expect PUE, a relatively new metric, to capture the results of using these technologies. However, the IT side has also been busy, and as a result we see virtualization and cloud implementations that promise to increase reliability and reduce costs. PUE won't capture how virtualization and the cloud affect energy efficiency in the data center, though they certainly will. These two strategies really have the potential of upending all we expect of our data centers, by dramatically changing how we use them and reducing the cost of asking them to do more work.

Similarly, Bruce Myatt will introduce Mission Critical's readers to a new generation of servers and processors that utilize even more densely packed chips. It is no mystery how this equipment will affect energy use in data centers. Much like the blades that make up so much of the server market, new servers only turn up the demand for power in small places, and the heat, as well.

Finally, the colo and service sector has been busy as well. Demand for space in new facilities is only increasing, if reports of new facilities in magazines like Mission Critical are to be believed. These providers promise to meet or exceed an organization's ability to meet its own SLAs, through offerings that we now call SaaS or IaaS. These offerings are alluring, but their increasing popularity only makes life more complicated for the CIO and others compared to three years ago. Now before deciding to build or expand a data center, an organization must evaluate the business case for outsourcing aspects of the data center operation and vet a slew of vendors.

This truly is a fast-moving industry. Just describing it today makes me breathless.