If there ever was a luminous object which was like a crystal ball, it is an internet connected device. I don’t claim to be a seer, however, there are signs that datacenters in 2021 will evolve significantly. The facilities will likely change most in terms of:
- Cooling methods
- Power and telecommunications infrastructure
- The use of recycled materials for the facility structure
- Increased use of software-defined data center technology
- Security methods
Managed services delivery models are evolving, and many cloud services providers are leasing their infrastructure from enterprise hosting providers like:
- Amazon Web Services
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud Services
Wholesale Data Centers
As cloud services and virtual server hosting expands, the need for even managed services providers to own their own data center lessens in importance. For wholesale data centers leasing pods of servers can be a lucrative business to be in. These services are certain to thrive while smaller vendors will get acquired or transfer hardware and utility ownership to upstream service providers.
Underwater Data Centers
Data centers in 2021 will adopt innovative ways of cooling servers and keeping them running to manage rising demand. Microsoft has already tested submarine data centers, which use sea water for cooling and could potentially use tidal energy to power servers and storage devices.
Deep-sea data centers could solve many physical security issues. It gives new meaning to the term “deep computing”. Remote monitoring of these data centers will prevail as submerged data centers may be difficult to access on a regular basis.
Alternative Power, Telecommunications, and Cooling Delivery
Environmentally friendly power sources like solar panels and wind turbines are already being used by a number of providers, and certain regions like Arizona and sub-Saharan Africa lend themselves to solar panel farms.
Wind turbines have incited much debate in terms of safety for birds, noise pollution and other “NIMBY” protests. Data centers need a great deal of power as well as telecommunications cabling, so it can be challenging to build data centers in remote locations.
There are many experiments being conducted to use lasers, balloons, drones and even satellites to deliver internet content to underserved areas of the world. Imagine data being delivered across many miles by using high powered lasers.
Wireless laptops, tablets, and smartphones have evolved exponentially over the past five years. In five more years, will wireless data transfer scale far enough to deliver data to and from servers?
Air cooling using large fans and water-powered turbines is one way that data centers are leveraging low-cost ways to moderate temperature. In certain regions, cooler climates regulate server room conditions. Besides water, liquids like glycol and dielectric liquid are being tested in cooling racks and towers.
Prefabricated Modular Data Centers
In areas where enterprise data centers are not practical, modular data centers are increasing in popularity. Retrofitted train and shipping containers are a portable and efficient way to quickly provision a data center in a location like Iceland, Denmark, or Haiti.
Server racks, cabling sockets, and servers can be preconfigured before the container is installed at a designated location.
Schneider Electric acquired a Spanish company called AST Modular in 2014. Containerized data centers may someday account for as much as 20 percent of the market. Even if the actual number is much lower, it is an indicator of the innovative possibilities of the future of the xSP industry.
There are many wholesale data center providers that already have been using modular data center pods, so it isn’t too big a stretch of the imagination to see how they could be used:
- As subterranean computing containers
- As fully managed, plug and play xSP boxes
- To provide cloud services to companies or public sector organizations
The Bottom Line on Data Centers in 2021
Predicting what data centers will look like five years from now is really a shot in the dark. These are some possible scenarios, based on some current trends. The only way to really discover what the future holds is to arrive there.
What do you think the future of the data center industry holds? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
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