The Future of Data Centers: 3 Things to Consider
Data Centers are Constantly Evolving
Just 3-4 decades ago there were very few data centers in the world, and the vast majority of people had no idea what they even were. Over the course of these years, this entire industry has exploded and developed in many incredible ways. Today, there are thousands of data centers located in just about every country. They process, store, and manipulate massive amounts of data, which grows every day. As the amount of data and information grows, there are more opportunities for advancements in data centers.
While the innovation of the past several decades has been incredible, most experts agree that the growth and innovation of data centers will continue for a very long time. Understanding what to expect in the future of data centers is important not only for those who work in this industry, but also for the billions of people who will rely on these data centers for everyday activities.
Data Center Location
The location of a data center has always been an important consideration when building something new. There are many things to think about when a data center company chooses where to build, including the following:
- Price of Property – Data centers continue to cost more money to build, so staying within a budget can be difficult. Purchasing property at a reasonable price will be an important consideration, especially as taxes and local laws change.
- Proximity to Users – In the past this was even more important. With modern fiber connections, this isn’t always the biggest factor. With edge data centers and modular data centers however, proximity will be critical in the future.
- Climate – The climate in the surrounding area will have a significant impact on cooling, accessibility, and more. There will be a shift in building data centers in emerging marketplaces where there are cooler temperatures.
- Access to (Clean) Electricity – Affordable and reliable electricity is a requirement for data centers. As we make progress in renewable energy sources, expect to see a shift in data centers relying on clean energy.
These considerations were important in the past and will continue to be essential in the future. Going forward, however, data center companies will look largely at what the facility will be used for. A facility that will primarily be used for cloud storage, for example, won’t necessarily have to be as concerned with proximity to users. Those used for edge computing or modular data centers, however, will have proximity as one of the biggest priorities. With the global focus on climate and environmental impact, data centers of the future will have to make it a priority to minimize their carbon footprint by using renewable energy and natural cooling options.
Data Center Structures
The physical structures of data centers will change significantly in the future. Most experts believe that structures will get both larger and smaller, with the mid-size facilities falling out of favor. Smaller data centers, especially edge data centers, are going to be in huge demand in the coming decade. Massive ‘giga-data centers’ will also be required to store and process the amount of data that is being generated.
There are some people who believe in the distant future that the need for both large and small data centers will be dramatically reduced. It is proposed that processing and data storage requirements will be accomplished by individual user’s crowdsourcing using peer to peer networks. On a small scale, this is already being done using blockchain services, which allow data storage and processing on a distributed network of computers, while maintaining high levels of privacy, reliability, and security. It is likely that this will become more popular in the future, but it will not completely replace the need for data center facilities, servers, and rack equipment.
Data Center Innovation
Of course, some of the biggest changes to expect in the future of data centers will be in technology. The following are some key advancements that will have a significant impact on the data center industry:
- Solid State Drives – Data centers are actively moving from traditional hard drives to solid state drives because they are much faster, more reliable, and can be much smaller. This will allow facilities to store a much greater amount of data in the same amount of space.
- Quantum Computing – Quantum computing is still in the earliest stages, but it is no longer just a theory. As this technology continues to advance, there is no doubt that it will have a major impact on data centers. While it’s impossible to predict the size of this impact, many people believe that quantum computing will revolutionize the entire IT industry.
- Artificial Intelligence – Using AI in data center operations and allowing it to monitor systems to optimize temperature, humidity, computing efficiency, and server racks will be essential in the future of data centers.
- Blockchain – Blockchains are well-known for cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, which will impact data centers in many ways in the future. The most obvious is with the ‘mining’ of many of these coins and tokens. However, people are also using blockchain technology in many other ways including streamlining banking, data storage, cryptography, and much more. As with most other technologies, data centers are a big part of how it all works together.
- Cyber Security – Cyber security is going to continue to be a major area of innovation in the future. Governments, businesses, and individuals have all been victims of hacks and other breaches in recent years, and data centers are working hard to help reduce that risk.
Final Thoughts on the Future of Data Centers
Of course, there will be many other ways that data centers will advance in the coming years. Many of the things to expect will simply be advancements in the way things are currently happening, which is predictable. For example, data centers will continue to integrate new technology with equipment such as server racks, shelves, rails, etc. However, the biggest changes will likely be in entirely new technologies that simply don’t exist today and are unpredictable. This is why it is so important for everyone to keep up with the latest advancements and innovations in technology.