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At the beginning of each year, the website Data Center Frontier, which specializes in news about the world of data centers, makes a list of what we can expect in this segment in the following 12 months.
This year, eight trends that are expected to shape that scenario in 2022 have been addressed. Broadly speaking, the main one will be how to deal with the challenges related to the vital role of data centers in an increasingly digital society, as well as the concerns associated with climate change.
1 – Climate change: Choosing the location for new datacenters is becoming a strategic priority involving climate concerns, scarcity of key resources such as power and water sources, and the growing interest of surrounding communities in the impacts caused by datacenter infrastructure.
Many of these concerns are detailed in an Uptime Institute survey on climate risks. One in 10 datacenter operators see a significant increase in risks to their facilities, which could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in assets plus disasters caused by severe weather phenomena.
2 – Resilience and Uptime: In 2021, we saw several major incidents that shook the reliability of cloud services. Because of this, issues associated with uptime, the period in which services remain operational without problems, should gain more attention. In addition, as more and more enterprises adopt hybrid systems of operation (local and remote), it is necessary to invest in more effective backup and disaster recovery strategies. The number of outages has been decreasing, but the consequences continue to worsen, according to another Uptime Institute report.
At the operational level, it is likely that by 2022 many will optimize IT architectures to better support disruptions to third-party services.
3 – Changes in the data center chain: Some analysts believe that equipment delivery delays and labor shortages in the construction industry will be felt most acutely in 2022. The uncertainties caused by the pandemic may delay the creation of new data center facilities. And these delays could, for example, cause rents for already occupied space to rise by 4% to 6%.
And in this business environment that faces delays and rising costs, merger and acquisition (M&A) processes can be a way out. Data center operators and their financiers have access to a large pool of financial resources, so we may see some players using this financial muscle to secure control of critical components in their data center facilities, either through acquisitions or by creating joint initiatives via new ventures or partnerships.
4 – More investment in regional markets: By 2022, the injection of capital should extend into regional markets and specialized service providers, for example, edge computing. There were clear signs of this in 2021, such as the move by private equity group Carlyle Group to acquire regional datacenter provider Involta, which operates 12 facilities. Amazon Web Services, meanwhile, announced plans to enhance its edge computing network by creating local zones in 30 new locations.
5 – Immersion cooling: According to Data Center Frontier, we will see significant advances in this direction by 2022. Factors are driving this current is the need for hardware with more processing power to meet AI workloads, the growing pressure to eliminate water use in cooling systems, and, of course, technological advances that are making liquid cooling feasible.
6 – Resistance from local communities: Controversies related to the installation of datacenters near communities are expected to grow in 2022 due, for example, to issues associated with sustainability, as they consume a lot of water and energy. Because of this, resistance from communities is becoming a real challenge in some of the major datacenter markets, which will need to convince them that they will be good neighbors by not causing resource depletion problems.
7. Data and power with deep connections: By 2022, the intersection between data and power in datacenters is expected to enter a new phase, driven by demand for the use of renewables and financial incentives from investors.
8 – Keep an eye on the metaverse movement: What kind of servers, storage systems, and network infrastructures will datacenters need to offer to make metaverses work well? Datacenters should keep an eye on this in 2022.
More details on the Data Center Frontier forecasts for 2022 can be found here.