“Smart Cities” is one of the most popular and emerging use cases of data centers, especially in India. There are more than 100 “Smart City” projects being already announced and more than 500 “Amrut Town” projects are being planned in the country over the next few years. Data centers are expected to play a pivotal part in successfully executing these plans.
Smart city is a planned approach to urban development that deeply integrates digital technology in order to make urban services more efficient, reduce resource consumption, and improve communication between governments and citizens.
Smart cities will generate huge amount of data, and that will only continue to grow exponentially. Therefore, it is extremely important for data center organizations to have hyperscale infrastructure in place for storing such ever-growing data. Additionally, these data centers require reliable power supply for uninterrupted operations of the facilities. But these call for huge investments and equally huge manpower to run such facilities.
These challenges can be mitigated to a significant extent with Edge Data Centers in place. These data centers of the future are at the edge of the last-mile network, thereby allowing the wired and wireless worlds to operate in tandem.
Data Center Adoption In The Near Future
Based on the industry research, the global data center construction market accounted for US$ 43.7 Bn in 2017 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.2 percent during 2018 to 2025 and will account for US$ 92.9 Bn in 2025.
The data center construction market is broadly classified into types of construction, tier/standards, industry verticals and geography. North America has always remained one of the most prominent regions for data center construction. This is because there has been early adoption of data center technology across various industries/ verticals in this part of the world. Rapidly growing economies in Asia-Pacific (APAC) region will pave the path for increasing adoption of data centers and propel the data center construction market. The APAC region is expected to lead the market globally, with highest CAGR over the next five years from now.
In my views, following are the top five factors that the data centers might want to adopt in the near future:
- Smaller Data Centers: According to a popular survey across 800 data center professionals for projecting the data center market in the year 2025, 67% participants believed at least 60% of global computing will be cloud-based by the year 2025. It is also likely that the enterprise data centers would shrink in size. 58% percent of the respondents foresee that the data centers of the future will be half the size of the current facilities or smaller. Another 10% respondents believe the enterprise data center of 2025 will be one-tenth the size of the current facilities. While 41% data center professionals expect a combination of air and liquid to be the primary method for data center cooling over the next five years, only 20% of them see ambient air or free cooling, becoming the primary means for thermal management and just 9% professionals foresee the rise of immersive cooling
- Renewable Energy in Data Centers:Experts believe a mix of sources will be used to provide electrical power to data centers. Solar will lead, followed by a nearly equal mix of nuclear, natural gas and wind
- Less of Colo and More of Cloud: Industry experts predict more than 67% of data center computing globally will be done in the cloud
- Prominent Role of DCIM:Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is the amalgamation of IT and building facilities functions within an organization. While few of the experts prioritize comprehensive visibility across all systems and layers, the others expect the data center to be self-healing and self-optimizing. That indicates that 72% of the experts believe some level of DCIM will be deployed in almost all data centers globally by 2025
- Innovation and Automation: More and more innovation will continue for reducing the power usage in the data centers and for expanding more avenues for service automation in order to improve efficiency of service delivery and facilitate quicker go-to market for customers
Typically, everything that happens online, takes place in data centers. These organizations facilitate a wide range of activities across government, business and society. Most of the necessities in various spheres of human activity such as energy, lighting, telecommunications, internet, transport, urban traffic, banks, security systems, public health, entertainment and even our physical integrity are currently enabled by data centers. So, it is not an exaggeration to say that the lifestyle, welfare and security of billions of human beings are dependent on the data centers.
Since data centers are so vital for smooth functioning of digital economy and the connected world, enterprises should be very careful in choosing one for hosting their business-critical data.
Here are a few of the elements that enterprises should consider for shortlisting data centers:
- Availability:It is critical for an enterprise to access data at any given point of time. Therefore, round the clock availability of the data hosted in a data center is a crucial factor for consideration. An ideal data center should always remain at the disposal of its customer(s). The availability is measured in terms of Tiers. Tier IV is the global highest standard a data center could achieve, that translates to 99.995% availability of the customers data. In other words, the maximum tolerance for scheduled downtime in a Tier IV data center is less than 26 minutes in 365 days. There are a few organizations that globally audit and certify whether the infrastructure of a data center is capable enough to commit to such high-availability metrics
- Security: Ensuring complete security of the customer’s data is equally important as keeping the data available. Security of the data should be considered from two aspects:
- Data center (physical) security, and
- Cloud security
Potential customers must carefully evaluate the location of the data center to understand how safe the site would be from natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, et al. The cloud platform, if offered by the data center, should be equipped with comprehensive Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software to protect data at all levels. SIEM is used for identifying, monitoring, recording, and analysing security events or incidents within a real time IT environment. Data centers should be continuously innovating in this scope and deploy latest tools and techniques for protect the customer’s data. Homomorphic Encryption is one of the latest innovations in data security where data can be protected even when it is getting processed, i.e. in-transit
- Performance: It is extremely important for the modern-day enterprises to ensure that their customers can access the applications quickly (or easily). The latency for accessing the data depends on the location of the data center and its proximity to the fibre cable of the ISPs in the respective countries. It is imperative to evaluate the network accelerator software that the data center would use for ensuring data retrieval in the least possible time. Again, there are lot of innovations being carried out currently in this field with increasing needs for transferring huge amounts of data across countries and continents
- Modularity & Portability: Modular data centers are portable and easily deployable. These consist of modules that are purpose-engineered. One of the most popular form factors is container facilities. These facilities are made up of prefabricated components that can be easily and quickly set-up at a site, whenever capacity expansion is required
Accelerating operational efficiency, reducing capital expenditure for building & maintaining a robust IT infrastructure, and improving customer experience are few of the reasons for an enterprise to consider a data center and/or cloud partner.