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Predicting Data Center Trends for 2021

(and beyond)

Like it or not, we are all living in a culture fueled by data. Regardless of whether we’re awake or asleep, the data cycles are continuously running all around us, powering everything from a simple voice search on your phone, to complex IoT device sensors.

The growth in big data, analytics, edge and cloud computing, IoT and 5G are all part of this fourth industrial revolution, and data centers are at the heart of it all. This is where raw metrics and data derived from a range of systems, networks, applications and devices are captured and processed to create ‘meaning’ for humans and machines alike.

Needless to say, we are far beyond the point where the sheer volume of data was within limits of human perception and computation. The future of logical analysis and the effectiveness of any product and service will thus depend on the sensitivity and intelligence of AI and machine learning algorithms designed to process the data.

Even the most advanced experts in the world would have been hard-pressed 10 (or even 5) years ago to predict what technology would look like in 2020. Things change so rapidly that anticipating trends is little more than a painful exercise in futility. That said, we can look at past trends in an effort to predict future ones – at least in the short term. So, without further ado, let’s gaze into the crystal ball and highlight some of the major tech trends that will drive the data center industry in 2021 (and beyond).

1. Data collection and analysis ability will distinguish successful businesses (duh!)

Remember the days when a product or service could stand on its own merit based on how well it served the purpose for which it was created? Very soon, that won’t be enough to guarantee product shelf life anymore. Instead, that will depend on how well a product or service manages to capture relevant data, process it and use it to evolve with the demands of its customer base. Successful businesses understand this very well, and it’s the primary reason behind aggressive data collection and analysis being implemented everywhere. These masses of data will need to be computed fast and stored in secure environments, leading to continual massive investments in data centers.

2. COVID or not – there is no stopping the juggernaut that is the hyperscale data center

Although some larger enterprise data center sites did hit pause in 2020, there has been virtually no change to the overall growth surge of the data center infrastructure graph. Gartner predicts healthy YOY growth for at least the next 5 years. In fact, 2020 saw investments in the public cloud data center infrastructure hit a mind-boggling $17 billion. It’s also worth noting none of the 3 of the public cloud big boys – AWS, Microsoft and Google – had any spending disruptions for the year and continue as stated with highly ambitious hyperscaler plans.

What is hyperscaler? 

Hyperscalers are supersized data centers designed to host cloud services that are massively scalable. These types of data centers have only seen an upsurge in investments during the pandemic.

3. A shortage of skilled workers will result automation becoming a necessity for efficient data centers

A severe lack of a skilled workforce in the data center industry is not exactly news. As the need for servers have grown, the availability of professionals with the right skill sets to manage those servers have become inversely proportional.

Organizations with remote management systems in place found themselves in a comparatively comfortable place already when the pandemic hit. But automation has now become an absolute must, as no one truly knows when the majority of the workforce will return to the office (if ever), and many organizations opting for indefinite remote work models. Since most server operations can be automated, automation can help data centers save time, improve data storage, implement faster processing and optimize both processes and costs in the long run. In fact, Gartner has gone far enough to say that nearly 30% of data centers that don’t implement AI and machine learning will simply not be feasible in both operational and economic terms.

4. Customer expectations for data centers are higher than ever

Data centers are no longer storage rack rentals. If customers are moving from the self-hosted space, they expect high-end tools and automation that will make their overall business infrastructure more resilient. This includes server operations like malfunction detection, network configuration, remote OS deployment, instant hardware replacement, inventory, analytics etc. Expectations are also high in data center colocation, with AI implementation becoming a necessity to ensure efficiency.

Are you looking to increase the efficiency of your data center management? Shamrock can help. We’re award-winning data center consultants and our expert team can provide you with unbiased analysis and industry-leading design to help take your business to the next level.

5. What’s the best choice for your business?

There’s no denying that Microsoft is the default base of many core productivity applications and servers that you simply cannot do without. But 3rd party vendors do bring quite a lot to the table. They offer greater cost efficiencies with licensing and add-ons, and their mobile capabilities are years ahead of Microsoft.

But it also doesn’t have to be one or the other. Here’s a snapshot of what a 3rd party vendor + Teams integration can do for your business:

In today’s remote working world, the need for a solid voice and collaboration strategy is crucial to any company’s success. And whether or not you decide to get Teams directly through Microsoft, via a 3rd party vendor, or even leverage the strengths of both in an integrated fashion, Shamrock can help you make the best decision for your business at the guaranteed best price.

6. Edge computing will lead to mushrooming data centers

There is a huge appeal to processing data as close to its place of origin as possible. This helps reduce latency and increase processing speeds, especially with the increased push of data from IoT devices and 5G. It’s likely that we will see a mushrooming of smaller data centers as well in edge areas, with providers managing them all on a centralized platform.

7. Data centers will increasingly adopt intelligent monitoring systems

With infrastructure growing more complex than ever, it’s necessary for administrators to have a bird’s eye view of the entire structure and optimize as needed. To facilitate this level of clarity, it’s necessary to harness the immense amount of data being sent in by all the new sensors and hardware of intelligent monitoring systems and use AI and ML to perform predictive and preventative maintenance to ensure continuous uptime and prevent any bottlenecks. These systems also allow end-users to have access to rich data and have better control over servers and network.

8. The increase in data center demand will result in huge spikes in energy consumption – and energy innovation

All of the increasing data surges and required processing in data centers will most likely result in a huge spike in the energy that’s required to power all of it. As data traffic increases, electricity consumption is projected to double every four years on a global scale. As such, the most innovative companies are looking elsewhere for the power they need. These alternative and greener sources of power include wave, carbon capture, solar and wind power, and some companies are even investing in their own on-site power generation.

The overall impact of climate change is also pushing companies to explore innovations in more energy-efficient cooling systems, and it’s even transforming data center legislation. AI can also help in energy savings by learning and analyzing data from sensors tapping into test flow rates, identifying energy inefficiencies and evaluating the performance of cooling mechanisms.

Shamrock Consulting Group has the largest portfolio of data center partners in the industry, and all of our Data Center Consulting Services come with a best price guarantee. Click here to learn more.

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson is the Vice President and Senior Network Architect for Shamrock Consulting Group, an industry leader in digital transformation solutions. Since his departure from Biochemical research in 2004, Ben has built core competencies around cloud direct connects and cloud cost reduction, enterprise wide area network architecture, high density data center deployments, cybersecurity and Voice over IP telephony. Ben has designed hundreds of complex networks for some of the largest companies in the world and he’s helped Shamrock become a top partner of the 3 largest public cloud platforms for AWS, Azure and GCP consulting. When he takes the occasional break from designing networks, he enjoys surfing, golf, working out, trying new restaurants and spending time with his wife, Linsey, his son, Weston and his dog, Hamilton.

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