How Technology Trends Will Impact the Data Center in 2018

In this blog post we’ll look at the top technology trends for 2018 – including IoT, machine learning/AI and AR/VR. And we’ll look at how those technology trends impact the data center, because, as Andrew Schaap put it, “The burden of such rapid technological advancement falls on the physical infrastructure – the data centers that make up the factory of the digital age.”

For example:

  • IoT, AI, and AR/VR are driving incredible increases in demand for compute, storage and network capacity. Industry veteran Mark Thiele has famously predicted: “If the numbers follow a historical precedent at all we will need roughly 400 million servers to support our 2020 IoT and technology demands. To have enough data centers for 400 million servers, we would need to add another 4,000 massive data centers measuring roughly 400,000 sq. ft. with approximately 50 megawatts of power each.”
  • IoT and AI are pushing data to the edge. As we wrote in Solving the Capacity Challenge, “By 2019, nearly half of IoT data will be processed at the edge of the cloud, according to IDC. Edge processing is also likely to rise as tech giants explore more efficient, and more private, ways to run AI algorithms. Revolutions in machine learning have already significantly increased capacity demands in the cloud, and now tech giants are developing edge-based processing for those AI algorithms.”
  • Capacity planning will only get more difficult – making a future-proof data center even more essential. As Andrew Schaap explained, “Very rapid technological change means that future demand for data center capacity is anybody’s guess. And that makes life challenging for even the most sophisticated capacity planners… Having a data center partner that can deliver capacity fast, scale up, and scale out takes the stress out of data center capacity planning. When data center infrastructure is designed to scale up and out, then future-proofing doesn’t require over-provisioning capacity to mitigate risk.”
  • Modern IT server architectures are pushing compute densities upward – and also creating mixed density environments. Architectures such as .5U, hyper-converged infrastructure, rack-scale designs and multiple other forms of high-performance computing are rapidly becoming mainstream, increasing the density demands on the data center. As we wrote in High, Mixed, & Variable Density Needs an Adaptive Data Center, “Supporting higher densities and increasingly dynamic compute loads without stranding capacity, scalability without over-provisioning, and reliability even in an age of dramatically fluctuating data center power draws requires the data center to be for IT exactly what IT has had to become for the business: adaptive.”

Top Data Center Demand Trends of 2018

As we move into 2018, we are seeing a ramp-up in certain trends that will provide ongoing challenges for businesses and data centers from now to the foreseeable future. Any business or data center that plans to be competitive within the next five years should be paying close attention to these trends and making the necessary adjustments to their infrastructure and capacities. Here are a few of the trends we’re seeing in 2018:

IoT, AI, and AR/VR are driving incredible increases in demand for compute, storage and network capacity

As more and more Internet of Things (IoT) devices and machines running AI algorithms come online, there will naturally be more demand for faster access to data. The growth of Augmented and Virtual Reality will bring their own networking and processing challenges.

Industry veteran Mark Thiele predicted in a 2016 LinkedIn article that, “If the numbers follow a historical precedent at all we will need roughly 400 million servers, to support our 2020 IoT and technology demands. In order to have enough data centers for 400 million servers we would need to add another 4,000 massive data centers measuring roughly 400,000 sq.ft. with approximately 50 megawatts of power each.”

IoT and AI are pushing data to the edge.

As we wrote in Solving the Capacity Challenge, “By 2019, nearly half of IoT data will be processed at the edge of the cloud, according to IDC. Edge processing is also likely to rise as tech giants explore more efficient, and more private, ways to run AI algorithms. Revolutions in machine learning have already significantly increased capacity demands in the cloud, and now tech giants are developing edge-based processing for those AI algorithms.”

This edge-based processing solves processing speed issues for IoT, but it means greater demand on cloud-based storage, which puts greater capacity demands on data storage centers.

How 2018 Trends Will Impact the Data Center

For both business owners and data centers, these trends create looming challenges that must be solved for survival. Below are some specific ways that data centers will be impacted:

Capacity planning will only get more difficult – making a future-proof data center even more essential.

As Andrew Schaap explained, “Very rapid technological change means that future demand for data center capacity is anybody’s guess. And that makes life challenging for even the most sophisticated capacity planners…Having a data center partner that can deliver capacity fast, scale up, and scale out takes the stress out of data center capacity planning. When data center infrastructure is designed to scale up and out, then future-proofing doesn’t require over-provisioning capacity to mitigate risk.”

Although it’s likely impossible to predict exact future demands on data centers, it is possible to purpose-build data centers that can deliver capacity fast and scale up. Aligned Energy is one such data center.

Modern IT server architectures are pushing compute densities upward – and also creating mixed density environments. 

Architectures such as .5U, hyper-converged infrastructure, rack-scale designs and multiple other forms of high-performance computing are rapidly becoming mainstream, increasing the density demands on the data center. As we wrote in High, Mixed, & Variable Density Needs an Adaptive Data Center, “Supporting higher densities and increasingly dynamic compute loads without stranding capacity, scalability without over-provisioning, and reliability even in an age of dramatically fluctuating data center power draws requires the data center to be for IT exactly what IT has had to become for the business: adaptive.”

Because tech growth and capacity demands are happening rapidly and organically, data centers must become more adaptive than ever, architecting mixed density environments that allow rapid response to variable data demands.

How Aligned Energy is Responding to the Predicted Trends of 2018

The right partner is an adaptive data center, which is future-proof. Data centers such as those run by Aligned Energy are able to match the changing needs of their clients –  data centers that can quickly and efficiently deliver new capacity and quickly and efficiently add capacity to existing deployments. Here are just two specific ways that Aligned Energy is partnering with its clients to respond to the capacity trends of 2018:

  • Moving beyond BMS and DCIM to overcome data center challenges

At Aligned Energy, the colocation client portal collects tens of millions of real-time data points across existing and new infrastructure assets then aggregates, indexes, and presents that data primed for decision-making. This software shares some features with both a building management system and a traditional Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) system, but it is a significant advance on both of those tools.

  • Client portal for greater transparency and insight

At Aligned Energy, colocation customers also enjoy transparency into what’s going on in the data center from the CDU to the PDU. This client portal gives customers the ability to see what is happening in the moment, where it’s happening and, if applicable, what caused it.

Interested in learning more about how Aligned Energy is responding to the top tech trends of 2018? Contact us today! 

DigiPlex plugs into district heating in Stockholm

Waste heat from established data center now goes to good use

Nordic data center operator DigiPlex will connect its Stockholm data center to the local district heating system, providing enough hot air to warm 10,000 apartments, thanks to a deal signed  with Stockholm Exergi, (formerly Fortum Värme).

The project will be the fist time an operational data center, with an indirect evaporative air-to-air cooling solution, is retrofitted to recover excess heat, the two organizations say.

Browsing hurts the planet

“Every time we browse the Internet, stream a TV series or use the cloud, a process starts in a data center. If that data center is a power-hungry, fossil fuel-fired one that releases excess heat into the atmosphere, we as individuals are contributing to climate change,” said Gisle Eckhoff, DigiPlex CEO. ”Digitization needs to support improved sustainability.”

Data Center Operators and IoT’s Perfect Storm

According to Steve Bass, Chevron’s North America data center manager, data center operators should prepare for the perfect storm that will bring a sea change that will drastically change the metrics of data center operations.

The storm consists of the advent of IPv6, the coming of 5G, and everybody’s favorite 2018 buzzword phrase, machine learning.

In a Data Center World presentation, Internet of Things Impact on Data Center Taxonomy, Bass explained that before IPv6 came on the scene, IoT didn’t have much of a change of taking hold due to a shortage of IP addresses. With IPv6 providing 340 undecillion addresses (that’s 340 trillion, trillion, trillion in human readable language), that means the shortage has been broken seemingly forever, opening the door for each and every device that wants its own unique IP identifier to get one.

Solve the Capacity Challenge

How do I get capacity as fast as possible–where I need it, when I need it, and at scale? This is the question that many tech giants are asking right now. Currently,  there are four “demand” trends driving this capacity challenge: demand is huge and rising fast, demand is unpredictable, demand is emerging in new markets, and demand is variable.

Demand is huge and rising fast

Every day, 2.5 Quintillion bytes of data are created, and the digital universe grows by 40% every year. If we look at these numbers and project outwards using the best research and data possible, we can conjecture that by the year 2021:

  • There will be so much video distributed across global IP networks each month that it would take 5 million years (!) to watch it all.
  • There will have been a 20x increase in VR and AR traffic between now and 2021.
  • 22.5 billion always-connected IoT devices will be online (up from 6.6 billion in 2016).
  • We will need 400 million servers in 2021 available to support 2020 IoT and technology demands.
  • And, we will need 4000 ~400,000 square foot 50-megawatt data centers to support those 400 million servers.

Clearly, there is a tsunami of data coming. But there are more challenges ahead.

Demand is unpredictable

The fast-growing demand trends we looked at makes planning for compute, storage and network capacity difficult for even the best capacity planners. For example, when Pokemon GO was released in 2016, it achieved 50 times greater than its originally anticipated growth, bringing servers to a grinding halt until the company could adapt. Companies and the data centers they use have to be ready for both the predictable and unpredictable.

Joe Cava, VP of Google Data Centers, says: “When you build data centers for your own products, you’re able to stay ahead of demand. You have historical data you can work with to make projections. But we’re no longer building for just our own products. With the public cloud, you’re building for everyone else’s products.”

Demand is emerging in new markets

Right now, we’re seeing rapid growth in emerging markets with no signs of slowing. The fastest growth right now is taking place in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, as nations in the Eastern part of Europe and large swathes of the latter two areas undergo rapid development. Video is a significant driver for traffic spikes, while IoT pushes for capacity at the “Edge”–the area where faster networking and processing can happen between the Cloud and server networks. By 2019, nearly half of IoT data will be processed at the edge of the Cloud, providing a serious challenge for developers. What’s more, content delivery networks will be carrying up to 71% of Internet traffic by 2021–up from 52% in 2016.

Demand is variable

Compute loads are becoming more and more dynamic as demand varies from month to month, day to day, hour to hour and project to project. Pertinent examples include how eCommerce spikes during the holidays, how data demand spikes “follow the sun” across the globe, and the ramp ups and downs that take place when DevOps are testing new ideas, products, and services.

Capacity Challenges Ahead

So, what are the some of the capacity challenges ahead for companies and data centers who want to not only meet the demands of the near future but stay ahead of the curve? First, these companies must focus on the near term to deliver and they must focus on the long-term to meet the demands of the future.

Near-term tactical challenges include mitigating the risk of not being able to support the business–delivering capacity as quickly as possible to ensure the business can meet customers’ needs.

A few of the long-term strategic challenges arising are:

  • Future-proofing current data center deployments against changing IT requirements as they arise during the term of a lease
  • Supporting standard and high power densities without stranding capacity or space or having to reconfigure the data center footprint
  • Deploying capacity at any scale 500 kW to 50 MW — around the world without reliability issues or power, water, or human capital restraints.

Capacity demands are huge and unpredictable. They’re emerging in new markets, and they’re increasingly variable. Adaptive data centers–like Aligned Energy’s–allow you to respond to both the near-term tactical and long-term strategic challenges so you can deliver for capacity quickly while mitigating risks today and future-proofing for tomorrow.

Want to know more about how Aligned Energy solves today’s and tomorrow’s capacity challenges? Contact us at  www.alignedenergy.com/contact

KW: data center, capacity challenge,

Meta: Aligned Energy is working with its clients to solve the rising data center capacity challenges of today and tomorrow.