Data centre of 2045: what will the future look like?
Fri 15 Apr 2022
Data centre owners and operators spend an enormous amount of time and resources dealing with existing problems and issues – not to mention trying to make the right decisions today to improve the opportunity for success in the future.
As the data centre grows and changes, the trends of today and predictions for the near future are likely to affect the industry in the long run. Some ideas that are currently in the proof-of-concept stage may become the template for success, while others will fall to the wayside.
As businesses begin to automate more and more complex processes, data centre management (DCM) will become centralised across different locations. This means that there will be very few on-site staff needed at data centre facilities.
This will improve the as-a-service offerings, allowing businesses to choose to outsource their entire data operation with data-centre-as-a-service, or different aspects of data centre management such as disaster recovery, networking, or security.
Bots – those little bits of code that complete digital tasks automatically – are everywhere, enabling everything from robotic process automation (RPA) to online spam. Robots – the mechanical task-completing, labour-saving automated workers – are being tested in both business and personal applications.
Approximately 2.7 million industrial robots are currently operational, with an additional 400,000 added each year.
Tasks that do require physical intervention at data centre facilities are already being entrusted to robots. Robots are used to monitor temperature and even enforce physical security measures at data centres. As robotics advance, and production becomes more affordable, this may further reduce the need for on-site staff, making the lights-out data centre more common.
Read more: Robots and the data centre
Primary cloud services providers are investing heavily in hyperscale data centres: the large-scale facilities of over 5,000 servers or 10,000 square feet. These companies have chosen the hyperscale model due to high reliability, efficiency, and scalability of services.
As Microsoft, the owner and operator of the largest hyperscale data centre in the world notes: “The hyperscale architectural model provides nearly instantaneous database backups with no impact on computer resources, the database restores in minutes rather than hours or days, and there is higher overall performance, and rapid scale-out and scale-up.”
Read more: Hyperscale data centres
However, hyperscale facilities don’t make financial or operational sense for many smaller companies. Long-distance data transmission may cause latency, which can impact on-demand services such as streaming, or real-time data assimilation as needed for IoT processes. These companies are instead turning to an edge computing model, decreasing latency associated with distance and the need for bandwidth by improving physical proximity.
Because of this, IDC estimates there will be an 800 per cent growth in the number of applications being launched at the edge by 2024.
Concerns about data centre sustainability will continue to drive decisions about data centre site selection. This includes getting long-term weather data that can be used for predictive modeling – for heat, humidity, and the possibility of natural disasters. Data centres are also increasingly being located in cold-weather areas, which can help make outside air cooling viable. This helps to reduce operating costs as well as improve the environmental impact of the data centre.
Site selection decisions that are currently in the proof-of-concept phase include underwater, like the Microsoft undersea data centre off the coast of Scotland; and underground, like the repurposed mine in Norway and the Oracle data centre in Israel.