Massive amounts of data are created daily across the planet. By 2021, the annual global Internet Protocol (IP) traffic is predicted to reach 3.3 zettabytes. You may be asking, what is a zettabyte? It is a major data milestone that analysts have tracked for some time. It is two to the seventieth power bytes, also expressed as 1021 (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes). To match this huge data environment, the data center industry is anticipating unprecedented growth. New data center technologies are, in fact, in the pipeline to help different industries face the growing demands of businesses. So, what’s the big deal about data center technology trends? Why is this such a big business for companies and the cities which are becoming the data center hubs?
The Evolution of Data Center in a Nutshell
A quick look at the history of data centers and how a modest “server” ushered in data center technology trends, one after another. The boom of data centers coincided with the dot-com bubble of the 1990s. During this era, personal computing took over most businesses. As companies started connecting to the internet, the need for systems that would help manage IT resources better also grew. Soon, businesses began setting up microcomputers—now called, servers—inside old computer rooms and referred to them as “data centers.”
The location, layout, and dependability of these “onsite data centers”, were not designed to match its needs. Consequently, businesses had to deal with unreliable power supply, inadequate cooling system, and insufficient space to accommodate the expanding demand for data centers. To curb costs, businesses began subcontracting third-party providers for this requirement. Essentially, outsourcing per se became one of the data center technology trends that transformed computing. Thus, as our use of data in business evolved, the means of how we could efficiently manage data also changed—which eventually led to the development of data center technology trends.
The impact that the New Role for Data Centers has on Communities
There are many cities worldwide that are striving to become homes for these large data centers. These include global locations such as Sweden, London, Singapore, and Beijing. In the United States, Phoenix, Northern New Jersey, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, and Northern Virginia are long term players. There are also newer locations such as San Antonio, Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Chicago that are also now into the thick of the industry.
Cities are interested in hosting datacenters for various reasons. It means landing a brand name in their community. They also create new jobs although typically not a huge number. More important is the energy and water consumption needs to support them and the business those generate. Energy consumption normally makes up a large amount of the overall cost of a data center, typically over 50%.
As the world continues towards data expansion, the fourth industrial revolution and urbanization with smart cities, even more, data center locations will be required. These will take on a new role for data centers as the requirement for the Internet of things, data storage, and computing power rising. These will require a closer proximity between the data centers and the customers who are using their capabilities.
New Data Center Technologies Trends: What is on the Horizon?
Without a doubt, data plays a vital role in our lives, and data centers are at the epicenter of all the developments within the digital sphere. The data center industry is likewise going through transformations. Here are some of the data center technology trends that are already taking shape.
The Cloud hovers and companies go “serverless”.
Onsite data centers and its upkeep can be resource-intensive. Data center management requires an uninterrupted power supply, a reliable cooling system, an extensive network system, and a security mechanism. That is why more companies are now choosing to utilize the services provided by hyperscale cloud computing companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
Alternatively, some businesses are opting to utilize colocation spaces to house their servers. The responsibility of maintaining a data center now rests on the service provider. The agility and flexibility that these service providers offer are making companies reevaluate their IT strategies.
Switching to cloud computing and going “serverless” is indeed one of the significant data center technology trends. The increasing demand of consumers will require providers to continually evaluate their capabilities to support the market’s growing needs.
Data Center Expansion and Transformation is on the upswing.
The surge in the construction of mega data centers in strategic locations all over the world is seen as one of the major data center technology trends that are sweeping the industry. The world’s top three biggest data centers—China Telecom’s Inner Mongolia Information Park, China Mobile’s Hohhot Data Center and China Mobile’s Harbin Data Center are in China.
While in Japan, @Tokyo Corporation built a 1.5 million square feet data center that caters to major businesses within the country. In the U.S., there are about 3 million data centers as of 2014. However, experts predict that the country needs an additional 4,000 data centers by 2020 to keep pace with market needs. Industries in the periphery are benefiting from this growth spurt. CBRE Data Center Solutions, a premier property management company even created a subsidiary that caters to data center property investments.
Edge Computing will gain momentum.
Latency—the delay before a transfer of data begins—has been one of the challenges carried by a centralized cloud platform. This delay is bound to happen when the data is physically far from the users who access it. Consequently, the user experience for applications like gaming, analytics, and real-time communications can be negatively impacted by this delay. Cloud service providers, like Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, are addressing this concern by building gateways at the edge of computing spaces. We are seeing up-and-coming players such as Limelight join the edge computing game. As one of the emerging data center technology trends, edge computing is bringing the cloud closer to its users.
Artificial intelligence will usher in self-managing data centers.
While AI has enabled smart homes, driverless cars, and smart factories, artificial intelligence is seen as one of the new data center technology trends. Artificial intelligence processing such as algorithm and deep learning will help analyze power consumption, plan data center capacity, and monitor security and delivery of critical processes to its customers. Google has begun tapping on this capability through the acquisition of AI startup, DeepMind Technologies Ltd.
Laws and regulations have a substantial impact on data centers.
Directives from government agencies and regulating bodies will push businesses and data management leaders to plan and implement compliance measure or face a steep fine. But more than the cost of penalties, noncompliance to regulations exposes businesses to more dangerous threats such as a breach or loss of data, and cyber-attacks. For instance, the EU’s Data Protection Act 2018 requires European customer data to be kept within the European Union. Hence, the location of servers is critical for the cloud services companies to be compliant with.
Data security has become a top priority.
Given the number of security breaches that recently occurred and the degree of damage it caused to business and consumers, it’s only expected that data security has become a top priority. Data center technology trends on security are aimed at two areas—physical and virtual.
New data center technology trends on physical and space security include the use of extended perimeter protection, video analytics and security portals like “mantraps”. Virtual security, on the other hand, will use a unified approach. Besides virtual perimeter security such as firewalls, data centers will start to use behavioral threat detection. Simply put, data centers will be using machine learning to monitor overall user behavior, notice unusual activities, and, ultimately, combine all data to assess and preempt attacks. Big players such as Amazon and Google and upcoming companies like Darktrace already have had their sight on this as one of the data center technology trends.
Data centers are moving toward green energy consumption.
Climate change is a compelling reason for data center businesses to look for more efficient energy consumption for data centers. Data centers are huge energy hogs. In 2016 alone, global data centers gobbled up a total of about 416 terawatts. This energy consumption is predicted to double by 2020 which strengthens the pressure to look for a cleaner energy source. IT companies and data centers are responding positively to this call by looking for a green energy source. For instance, Google is aiming at modifying its data centers to 100 percent green energy on a 24/7 basis.
Michael Terrell, Google’s Energy Market Development head shares, “Achieving 100 percent renewable energy is just the beginning. We’re keeping our eyes on the prize, and that is getting to carbon-free for every hour of the day for every location.”
Concurrently, data centers are finding alternative ways to cool servers. Green Revolution Cooling, the company which patented the liquid immersion cooling technology, provides a more energy-efficient cooling system for data centers.
New Data Center Technologies and Beyond
Data is the new oil, so says economic experts and marketing gurus. It is true that just like oil, to become useful, data needs to be “extracted or mined.” Still, data is several times more potent than oil. While oil is a limited resource, data, on the other hand, has a limitless supply and can be reused infinitely.
Nevertheless, whether it is the “new oil” or not, data and the value that we derive from it cannot be denied. From education to healthcare and business—there are countless ways we can use data to improve lives and tackle prevailing concerns. Our journey in the digital age has just begun. And businesses must prepare for the challenges and developments that lie ahead—including data center technology trends—and utilize necessary strategies to efficiently make the most of data in an ever-evolving digital world.