As we look towards a brand new decade with 2020, it’s important to look back at what has been achieved within the last ten years and recognize how far data technology has come. From Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem and the creation of the Xbox to the launch of Apple’s first iPad and the progression of driverless cars, it’s hard to imagine a world where these devices and technologies didn’t exist, which was indeed the case pre-2010.
With the continual creation and expansion of technology, devices, and global connectivity, of course, comes more and more data and information to be transmitted and processed, which has naturally shaped how data centers and cloud providers have operated and serviced customer needs over the last ten years. We take a look at what 2020 could look like for the data center and cloud industries in 2020 and beyond.
Whilst it is still unclear what form Brexit will take and whether the recent UK election result will halt or change proceedings, it could be said there has been a hesitancy surrounding digital infrastructure investment within the UK as a result of the ongoing uncertainty, with a survey by the Institute of Directors finding that nearly four out of ten IT firms might relocate their operations overseas due to Brexit.
However, with the tech scene having seen a 14 percent growth in the number of new technology start-ups in 2018, there will hopefully be a surge in confidence and investment once the Brexit issue is resolved one way or the other, with this continued growth of technology and new ideas bringing with it a natural demand for digital infrastructure.
Broader European growth in digital infrastructure and companies prioritizing geographical expansion has seen a huge uptick in 2019, however.
As companies continue to strive for global connectivity and hybrid solutions, we expect to see ongoing new deployments by hyperscale customers. A recent survey by law firm DLA Piper corroborates this positive prediction for the year ahead, showing that 92 percent of debt and equity investors expect the overall value of investment into Europe's data center infrastructure to increase over the next 24 months.
From a business perspective, there is a tangible sense of urgency to end uncertainty within the UK and bring the country back up to speed with the rest of the continent.
New digital service providers are continuing to be created and catapulted into the wider world. Businesses will continue to implement cloud, IoT and edge computing technologies to disrupt traditional verticals. With the rising popularity of e-sports platforms such as Twitch; AI-enabled technology like facial recognition; and infrastructure for driverless vehicles, data demand is set to go beyond anything we’ve seen before.
This unprecedented volume of data will certainly force companies and operators to invest in new hardware capable of operating at higher temperatures, more efficient cooling techniques and buildings which accommodate greater power densities.
Green tariffs and renewables
Much like Brexit, sustainability and energy efficiency are “buzzwords” of the past few years, with mainstream global movements ensuring the ethical practices of businesses, or lack thereof, are front and center of public consciousness.
It is expected that by 2025, the ICT industry could use 20 percent of all electricity and emit up to 5.5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, so it’s important that the industry shows it is doing more to secure the right sources of power, get that power to the right locations, and be consistently optimizing efficiency at all sites. Now is the time to make real change with ongoing and effective solutions.
The biggest sustainability challenge for providers is in balancing power needs with the best renewable and low-carbon energy sources across their portfolios of facilities and it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out into 2020. The biggest challenge we face is power shortage - let alone sustainable power availability. Our sense is that the demand for sustainable power outstrips any nation's ability to create sustainable power.
Industry consolidation and enterprise data center decision making
A new report from INAP suggests that 9 in 10 organizations will move workloads off premises by 2022, as enterprises continue to leverage colocation facilities and avail of efficient, reliable and flexible options. This will be a huge source of expansion and perhaps the next phase of growth in the data center industry, as companies continue to evaluate their current technology portfolios as we go into 2020 and how to best utilize developing technologies to help manage their growing datasets.
Higher networking performance, more cost-effective solutions, and less manual maintenance are also factors taken into account when enterprises consider an off-premise or hybrid approach and we expect these to remain of utmost priority for the majority of companies both in the UK and elsewhere.
Whilst no one can fully predict what’s next, one thing that’s certain is that data center operators must remain agile and flexible enough to pivot to respond to customer demands and changing needs as necessary.
From artificial intelligence and human augmentation technology to cryptocurrency and e-commerce, the persistent advance of technology in all aspects of everyday life is only set to create more data and more demand from customers, which means the need for data centers and state-of-the-art storage solutions is only set to increase.