The data centre industry is looking forward to a sustained period of enormous growth. While there will be construction challenges, there is already a solution, says Jos Baart, vice president sales and marketing at Flexenclosure
We are living in an explosion of data. More data is being generated, collected, processed, stored and demanded back again than ever before. And the sheer volume alone is creating huge challenges for our industry – challenges that we need immediate solutions for.
So where is all this data coming from? We could point to the arrival of the Internet of Things and the sensors that are being built into more and more products. Or the gaming industry, fuelled by ongoing exponential increases in networking speed and processing power.
Or even self-driving vehicles, which are fast reaching their tipping point into mainstream technology. But while these three clearly account for a lot of new data, the simple fact is that the data explosion is being driven by an explosion in applications of all shapes and sizes, often with no common denominator other than the fact that they all create and feed on ones and zeros.
The sheer volume of data that needs to be managed is not the only challenge though. Immediacy of access and speed to use are also critical. Many of the new applications in our lives operate in human time, requiring ultra-low latency in communication between application, network and users.
We expect to be able to access what we need when we need it, with no delay. We expect buffering to be a thing of the past and have little patience for it today. We expect everything to be at our fingertips – often literally and always immediately. This managing of the user experience is critical, so latency sensitive traffic needs to be prioritised and processed as close to the users as possible.
And of course, with every new day bringing new applications online as well as new, previously unconnected users, data volumes are only going to get bigger and demanded speeds are only going to get faster.
Physical foundation of a digital world
In order to make all of this possible, data centre operators are going to need to keep a step ahead. The problem is that our digital cloud-based world still needs to live in a physical one – and one that is somewhat more complex than a simple network of core data centres dotted around the world’s tier 1 cities.
A lot of the data we create and consume today needs to be managed by a combination of local caching, local and central processing and analysis of everything. Without a very different approach to where, geographically, data centre space is available, many new applications will not be commercially viable. And this is why we are seeing such an increase in interest for and deployment of new edge data centres.
With this shift of bringing processing capacity to the data (rather than the traditional, expensive and time-consuming approach of taking data to central and often distant processors), it is little wonder that the data centre industry needs to evolve.
It goes without saying that we need more data centre capacity in order to keep the available infrastructure on top of growing demand. What is changing is that not only will we continue to see growth at central locations in order to process the core applications, there is also going to be a significant increase in demand for data centres at both the edge and micro edge.