A Look Inside Tomorrow’s Data Centers

The Asia Pacific market will experience increased traction and is set to become the biggest market for data center infrastructure over the next five years, says Markets and Markets

India is fast becoming a robust market for data centers, with digital data consumption expected to increase to 2.3 million petabytes in 2020—twice as fast as the worldwide rate.

The Indian data center infrastructure market is currently valued at $2.2 billion and is expected to more than double to $4.5 billion by next year. India is poised to be the second-largest market for data centers in Asia-Pacific by 2020 and the investments are expected to reach $7 billion, according to an Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report.

The Asia Pacific market will experience increased traction and is set to become the biggest market for data center infrastructure over the next five years, forecasts MarketsandMarkets.

Without any doubt, the forecast for the data center market seems bright. However, what will the data center look like in the future? Take a peek at how the following trends will shape the data center market in the years to come:

Geography will be a major driver: Increasingly, the industry is realising the benefits of building data centers in an area with cold climate to reduce cooling costs.

For example, Google recently built a major $230,000,000 data center in Finland in order to leverage not only the region’s cold temperatures, but also lower power rates. Facebook has constructed a new data center near the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden, due to the region’s cold climate.

Emergence of mega data centers

Worldwide, datacenter space will continue to increase, growing from 1.58 billion square feet in 2013 to 1.94 billion square feet in 2018, according to IDC. The total number of data centers around the world will peak at 8.6 million in 2017 and then decline as there will be mass migration from small, on - premise facilities run by internal IT teams to mega data centers.

IDC says the importance of mega data centers will continue to increase and such facilities will account for 72.6 percent of all service provider data center construction projects by 2018.

Rise of modular DCs and green concepts

In order to reduce cost and risk, data center designs are becoming more integrated and are being constructed from prefabricated modules that can be deployed quickly, scaled easily and operated efficiently.

It takes less time to develop than traditional processes, can be repurposed at another location and easily scaled up or down depending on future needs. Modular data center market is expected to grow from $10.34 billion in 2016 to $38.30 billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 29.94 percent, according to Marketsandmarkets.

Developing markets such as China, India, and Brazil are expected to lead the speedy growth of the modular market.

Green data center concepts such as free cooling, renewable energy sources, and waste recycling are also gaining popularity. Free air cooling enables data center builders to cut up to 40 percent of the capital cost.

Another emerging technology that is poised to revolutionise data center design is Direct Immersion Cooling, where water is replaced with a non-conductive and non-corrosive liquid such as mineral oil. In fact, Intel carried out a year-long test with mineral oil to prove that submersion cooling can reduce IT and data center energy.

New-age equipment

Data centers have been witness to migration from rack servers to blade and blade-like servers. A current trend is the convergence or hyper convergence of servers and storage into a single box, which is being driven by the availability of solid-state drives.

SSD storage products are likely to replace bulky hard drives by 2020, while backup and archival storage will move to the Cloud. Software-defined infrastructure will be in vogue, which will give the ability to scale and accommodate dynamic workloads without the significant investments in reconfiguration and hardware.

The next wave of computing after Cloud is definitely Edge Computing. Edge computing places data acquisition, storage and applications closer to the end user. Computing capabilities are moving to the edge devices such as driverless cars and drones to all the devices that make up Internet of Things.

The Edge will accelerate the next leg of distributed computing as every AI device will use vast amounts of processing power.

Management of future data centers

The data center market will witness the explosion of hyper converged infrastructure and Software Defined Data Centers. Hyper converged infrastructure is the fastest-growing category in the data center hardware market and will reach $5 billion, which is 24 percent of the market, by 2019, according to Gartner.

It is the most efficient enabler of Infrastructure-As-A-Service and will be in mainstream use in the next five years. HCIS helps organizations to develop and run applications in a more flexible, maneuverable and less expensive way but with the benefits of shared computing and storage resources.

With machine learning and artificial intelligence becoming an increasing business priority, it is a great time to adopt a Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC). The advantage of SDDC is that the clients do not have to build the infrastructure and hence it enables many smaller business to access compute, network, and storage elements that they did not have access to before.

The data center of the future is likely to incorporate more robotics-driven technologies. Robotics will not only help in creating automation around repetitious human tasks, but also in mapping temperatures and optimisation of the data center.

For example, IBM is using robots to measure temperature and humidity in data centers on iRobot Create, a customizable version of the Roomba vacuum cleaner. Big robotic makers are already developing smaller, smarter and faster robotics, capable of scaling racks and truly optimising the data center.

Another use of robotic automation technology is to enable teams to configure their local business process automations and rapidly design, build, test and deploy new business process automations.

In four to five years from now, there will be a full-scale revolution in how information is delivered. Growing clouds, robotics and edge computing will change the way a modern data center functions.

About the author: Sanjay Motwani is regional director, Raritan Asia Pacific.

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