The Chilean economy fell slightly in 2015, thanks to the adverse impact of lower prices for copper exports, according to the LatinFocus Consensus Forecast, a study from analyst firm FocusEconomics. The final figure for GDP increase in 2016 was around 1.6, with a growth of 2.3 percent predicted in 2017.

Will this affect Chile’s data centers? Not too much. It seems. There are reports of rapid growth and high demand in the sector.

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– Thinkstock / komyvgory

Data center impact

Kathleen Barclay, president of AmCham Chile, says demand for data centers in the country is growing at around 20 percent per year, and in 2017 investments in the market exceeded $800 million, according to an interview published in Diario Financiero.

For Barclay, these figures demonstrate the importance of this sector as a new space for development, which could impact the country’s economic growth and affect how Chile is positioned both regionally and internationally. “The country could become a hub, as has been the case in Colombia and Uruguay,” she says.

It seems that Chilean service providers are not affected by macroeconomic data, according to the ISPs consulted. “Since 2010 to date [the industry] has had a steady and stable growth, and this is expected to continue,” says Gino Bernucci, assistant manager of outsourcing at Ente, because providers have changed their recurrent expenditure to capture economies of scale.

The economic context could even be beneficial to the market for data centers by promoting outsourcing, says Heidy Bauer Fairer, manager of data center and cloud provider Chile Sonda: “Companies seek to maximize profitability and clearly a way to achieve this goal is outsourcing.”

This year, the market growth in construction of data centers has decreased a little and next year will be similar, says Richard Rebolledo, a project manager at Powertec. However, he adds: “There are still many parts of the data center market which are not experiencing a slowdown.” These areas include management, operation, monitoring and control.

Earthquake troubles

In 2010 Chile was hit by the fifth largest earthquake ever recorded, creating outages as data centers went offline. Since then, the industry has made great strides in improving the reliability of its infrastructure.

“In recent years we have seen a radical change” says Carlos Leiva, CEO of CLK. “Direct users such as service providers in data centers are now markedly more interested in international standards. For design, construction and operation, everyone wants to know the level of reliability of data centers.”

In 2010 Chile was hit by the fifth largest earthquake ever recorded, creating outages as data centers went offline. Since then, the industry has made great strides in improving the reliability of its infrastructure.

This level of professionalism is essential in a seismic country, with its own particular regulations for construction and electricity. Since 2010, he says, “large data centers have sought and obtained certifications for Uptime Tier III design and construction, and are increasingly interested in obtaining certification for operations.”

Marco Cantamesi, country manager for Chile at Dimension Data, confirms this, explaining that Chile’s infrastructure has been tested by various high-magnitude quakes during the last five or six years, and most data centers have passed the test.

Analytics arrives

Trends such as big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and smart cities are beginning to emerge in Chile, as in the rest of the world, but there is still much work to do. Customers’ interest is driven by marketing initiatives and awareness of the analytic power of the hyperscale clouds which power such solutions, says Heidy Bauer.

It seems that Chilean service providers are not affected by macroeconomic data - they’ve grown steadily since 2020

However, Gino Bernucci is more cautious, pointing out that so far such projects at Entel have not translated into great use of space in data centers: “It is estimated that by 2020 the demand for these projects increases, because processing and storage must be done locally, since the response times and network latencies should be minimal.”

There are new technologies which can help. Powertec’s Rebolledo highlights containerized data centers and DCIM solutions. The first of these are good for dynamic structures or temporary requirements, he says, and Powertec has modules in applications such as mining in the south, for data centers which are “quick to assemble and operate as well as to move if needs change.”

Interest in DCIM is growing amongst users , says CLK’s Carlos Leiva: “It has become clear that many of the downfalls of data centers could be avoided or prevented, or recovered faster if they had a tool like this.”

Inside the IT stack, the solutions that are being implemented do not differ greatly from the rest of the world, with software containers, Docker, software defined systems and networks, and hyperconverged cloud all appearing more frequently.

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– Thinkstock / komyvgory

Room for improvement

Although it is clear that things are going well in the market for data centers in Chile, there is still room for improvement - particularly in the areas of energy efficiency and operation.

“In Chile, facilities should develop plans to be more aware of the environment,” says Marco Cantamesi. “It is vital to reduce energy costs without sacrificing the reliability of data centers.” With data center demand increasing, data centers need strategies to reduce energy consumption and limit the environmental impact: “That’s a big challenge and an issue that should be worked on in the future,” he says.

Maintenance and operation should also improve, along with training: “We need protocols that support predictive and preventive work for disaster recovery, and they must be reviewed and practised constantly” says Leiva. He wants to see staff constantly learning and updating their knowledge.

Despite these challenges, there is a permanent change driving the sector which should not stop. The growth will continue, says Leiva.

This article first appeared in This version, translated from Spanish and edited by Peter Judge, appeared in DatacenterDynamics magazine.