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What Brexit, Edge and OCP mean for the data centre in 2017

Sun 15 Jan 2017

DC future

24/7 operation, faster service and response times, a place to house the growth in data from connected devices, the IoT, attendant concerns about security, authenticity, accountability and Brexit have been high on the agenda for 2016, says Schneider Electric

The data centre market continues to be the backbone driving the business-critical demands of the digital age. Below we discuss a number of key trends that could come into realisation over the next twelve months.

Brexit and the data centre

Whilst there is still a lot of speculation surrounding GDPR, the picture remains unclear on the future of data protection. Schneider Electric, Tech UK and other leading technology companies recognise that GDPR regulations should establish a fully harmonised, directly effective, EU-wide data protection law.

The UK continues to be an excellent location for data centre deployment

London remains the second largest data centre market in Europe,  accounting for more than a third of the UK’s data centre capacity, and whilst there is still a huge amount of uncertainty about Brexit, it is widely believed that the UK will remain a trusted and thriving location for data centre businesses.

The demand for cloud-based services continues to grow and should the cost of hardware, software, and services increase in response to Brexit’s vote on currency, the demand for edge data centres could continue to grow and may even offset any decrease in large enterprise data centre builds.

Therefore the UK continues to be an excellent location for data centre deployment as the third largest data centre market in the world.

A critical Edge

The growth in importance of Edge computing will continue apace as issues such as latency, bandwidth limitations, security concerns and other regulatory requirements encourage many applications to be hosted away from large centralised data centres. This leads in turn to the need to address infrastructure at the Edge, many of the same issues that first encouraged the growth of cloud computing around centralised data centres in the first place.

We believe the industry will see the migration downstream to smaller data centres of capabilities such as redundant power supplies and cooling, dual network connectivity, remote monitoring enabled by software, and a greater concentration on physical security. This will be reflected both in management practice and in the development of products aimed directly at the small data centre market, with features such as redundancy and security built into standardised micro data centre solutions.

Divergence in convergence

Investments in large data centres will continue to drive new builds but this will continue to present challenges around scalability and speed of deployment. The need to standardise data-centre solutions to facilitate scalability, reliability and rapid response to changing requirements has long been recognised.

The Open Compute Project (OCP), as a collaborative initiative between leading IT vendors, telcos and internet giants, is an attempt to arrive at a standardised approach through co-operation and consent.

The leverage of large companies with non-standard equipment will cause some upheaval

Standards have been laid down at rack-level for servers, storage and networking equipment that are interchangeable and interoperable, thereby assisting the speed of innovation both among equipment vendors and data centre operators.

Not for the first time in the history of IT however, some larger companies such as Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn are attempting to use their size and market positions to influence the wider community. Although OCP will continue to attract support from those keen to establish collaborative standards, the leverage of large companies with non-standard equipment will cause some upheaval.

As is usually the case in such matters, a shake-out will eventually decide the winners and losers, but not in the short term.

The time is now for Lithium-Ion

Lithium-Ion batteries have been widely used for many years but only recently have come to be adopted in battery backup systems used in data centres. More typically, valve-regulated lead-acid batteries (VRLA) are used in Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems to ensure continuous power availability in the event of a disruption to mains electricity service.

Li-Ion offers a number of advantages over VRLA including longer life, greater power density leading to much smaller units for the same amount of energy, slower discharge when not in use and faster charging times.

Demand will continue to be driven by a growth in social networks and the Internet of Things (IoT)

The main disadvantage up until recently has been greater cost. However, recent improvements in price, largely due to the over supply of batteries originally intended for the electrical vehicle market, has made Li-Ion much more competitive particularly when total cost of ownership is considered.

UPS systems introduced last year feature Li-Ion batteries as the fall-back to mains power and this trend is likely to continue, it may even move into the generator space!

Other general trends that will continue over the next year are a growth in outsourcing and pay-as-you-go IT services, a continued focus on green computing with electrical efficiency and a shift towards renewable electricity generation becoming more marked, and of course demand will continue to be driven by a growth in social networks and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Contributors: Steve Carlini, Sr Director Data Center Solutions IT Division, Schneider Electric, Victor Avelar, Director and Senior Research Analyst, Data Center Science Center, and Patrick Donovan, Sr. Research Analyst Data Center Science Center  IT Division, Schneider Electric.

Schneider Electric is an official Knowledge Partner for The Stack, providing industry expertise on many aspects of data centre infrastructure. To read more from Schneider Electric, please visit its Partner Page.

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