The Datacloud Global Congress is an annual event bringing together professionals in the datacenter industry to discuss trends and sector outlooks. Throughout this year’s many panels, a few main takeaways emerged: cloud, edge and sustainability.
A growing need for data storage and processing closer to the end user will cause the industry to gravitate toward growth through edge datacenters. Panelists expect this to manifest as new additions to providers’ portfolios, not necessarily replacing existing large-scale facilities. Those existing datacenters could be affected, however, with the increased prominence of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) as part of clients’ infrastructure, which require more advanced equipment for processing.
The importance of sustainability was also discussed, particularly as it relates to the changes it will bring about in the industry. In the short and medium term, it could play into differentiating providers from their competition as customers look for the most environmentally friendly service. In addition, although full carbon neutrality will be difficult to achieve, providers will gradually pursue “greener” power sources and technical innovations in the services they offer.
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The future at the edge
Over the past year, the increased demand for datacenter services has become one of the many lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry. With work-from-home becoming the new normal for most organizations, their digital transformation efforts were accelerated by sending workloads to cloud, hosting and SaaS providers.
The growth in interest for cloud services will likely continue with new technological developments in areas such as AI/ML. Currently, cloud providers search for options to keep their infrastructure as close as possible to the end user to improve their experience – that’s where the “edge” comes in.
The edge, despite varying in definition and acting as an industry buzzword, generally refers to smaller datacenters designed specifically to reach end users and provide them with whatever solution they might need. Users’ needs vary, and edge datacenters tend to take on different forms to account for those differences. During the virtual event’s multiple panels, the consensus was that edge datacenters must be dynamic in order to remain growing and quick to deploy when customers need it, yet able to cease operations when no longer necessary.
Across all three days of the Datacloud Global Congress event, sustainability was brought up consistently as a topic of interest in panels. Attendees noted that sustainability will be demanded from the industry by governments, institutions and corporations alike. The European Commission, for example, is looking for the datacenter industry to be climate-neutral by 2030.
Thus, individual providers need to look inward and understand what changes must happen to achieve that goal, which is not always easy, especially since building and maintaining datacenters require copious amounts of energy and water.
Industry leaders hope innovation will help, with new technologies finding their way to the datacenter space as well as new innovative processes being developed by providers to achieve sustainability goals.
How could the legacy datacenters that consume high levels of power improve without breaking the bank? Although most providers have accepted an increase in capex when building new facilities, another question remains: How to adapt existing datacenters to new standards of sustainability?
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