May 25, 2017
In communities where the construction of new manufacturing facilities once adorned the headlines, we’re seeing a new economic player: data centers.
We’re creating and storing more information than ever before and one-third of that data is expected to pass through a public data center by 2020. This once emerging industry is maturing and becoming commonplace.
I recently participated in an expert panel on data centers by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal (read the story) and attended a technology conference this week where data centers were the hot topic.
The conversation has shifted from organizations asking if they should use cloud services to how and when. In the past year alone, we have seen big moves by the major players, new economic and regulatory policy and the accelerated adoption of cloud services. But it’s just beginning. Here’s a look at a few key trends shaping the future of data centers and what you can expect:
- The closer, the better.
Data centers were once strategically located across the United States and it was common – and even often preferred – to use a data center located in other states and hub cities like Silicon Valley. Both regulation and latency demands are now leading more providers to build data centers close to the consumer for better performance. They are moving to what’s called the “verge of the network” and known as “micro data centers.”
Take Netflix. The closer the data center is to the user streaming the video, the better the viewing experience. We’re already seeing the need to deliver more data faster than ever before and that’s only going to accelerate.
- The more, the merrier.
The need to move the data center from the core to the edge naturally leads to the development of many more data centers. The number of data centers that both big and small players will use will significantly multiply over the next five years.
Even without that, an incomprehensible amount of data is moving to the cloud daily. By 2020, Cisco projects that the number of smart devices developed to collect, analyze and share data will grow to 50 billion worldwide with 92 percent of all workloads will be processed in the cloud. There simply is not a cheaper way to securely store all our data than the cloud. Because of that growth, major cloud providers expect to triple their infrastructure by 2020.
- Consolidation of the players.
While there will be more physical data centers in the future to handle an exponential growth of information, the number of players behind them will shrink. The wild west landscape with new players emerging almost daily will be replaced by a market dominated by a select few.
The heightened number of mergers and acquisitions we have seen in the past year will continue to grow and leave less room for new players. The separation between the public and private cloud players also will diminish as both sides begin to deliver both services. Amazon continues to sophisticate its model to handle regulated data and change the entire landscape.
- Switch with a click.
Currently, data centers do not all speak the same language and the language they do use is both complex and convoluted. Here’s an example. This prevents an organization from easily moving its data from one location to another. That soon will change as a common language is developed and adopted across the industry. We’ve already seen key industry players develop software to translate the various languages to make it easy for clients to make a switch.
A common language will allow organizations to set up an automated move from one data center to another, in the case that the primary goes down or a certain workload is reached. It’ll also lead to more organizations switching back and forth based on price, similar to the ping pong game that plays out among cable, satellite and phone services.
In the next five years, the use of a data center will become as common as a smartphone. Every organization will need a data center strategy that enables their users to access more data, faster and with a flexibility we only dream of today.