Flexenclosure’s Jos Baart shares his predictions on some of the coming challenges and opportunities that will drive a major reshaping of the data centre industry – and the best way to meet the growing demand for new data centre capacity
What are some of the key trends and challenges in the current global data centre market?
From a trend perspective, there is consensus that data centre capacity will continue to grow steadily on a global scale. This has happened for several years already and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. However, while much of the growth to date has been characterised by the build-out of hyperscale cloud and colocation facilities, the years ahead will see an increasing importance of edge and micro edge locations.
This is being driven by the growth of IoT, gaming, mobile 5G, content distribution, cloud services, autonomous vehicles and myriad other applications that require the computing capacity to move much closer to where the data is both created and consumed. There are several reasons for this: network latency needs to be extremely short; network bandwidth can be very expensive and network complexity could become a limiting factor. But all three can be overcome by increasing computing power at the edge.
This accelerating growth in the data centre market will undoubtedly result in some significant challenges which will need to be handled carefully in order to secure a reliable and fully-functioning global IT infrastructure. There will be challenges with human resources, finding enough qualified people to design, build, operate and maintain all the required new data centre facilities.
There will be technical challenges, requiring significant integration efforts between the buildings themselves and the systems to be installed within. There will be increasingly tough “green” challenges – especially around energy efficiency – which will trigger the emergence of new technologies and new ideas. And there will be volume challenges, with the deployment of large numbers of edge and micro edge data centres requiring a high level of standardisation, coordination and new capabilities in remote management.
What do you think the future landscape of the cloud, edge and 5G technologies will look like?
In many respects, the landscape will be much as it is today – a mesh of data centres of all sizes: core hyperscale, regional large scale, local edge and micro edge. Some data centre owners will focus on just one of those segments, while others will operate a network of data centres covering several or all of these groups.