Facebook has huge amounts of data including your pictures as well! Amazon collects all your data relating to your purchases. Google may even have your current location data! Similarly, all other big tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, etc. have a huge repository of data. But where do they store this data? Well, that’s where data centers come into play. At the most basic, data centers are physical locations where companies store their data and other applications. These data centers contain servers and other network apparatus such as routers, switches, etc. And firewalls to protect this data of course!
But this is a rather simplistic definition of data centers. In this modern data age where insane amounts of data are generated every day, data centers have become an extremely important part of tech companies with constant latest innovations leading to even a so-called data center industry. Moreover, the emphasis has shifted these days from traditional on-premises physical data centers to virtual data centers. These provide an opportunity to even small and medium scale companies for data-driven growth and not just the large tech giants like Google, Facebook, etc.
So let’s see how the data center industry has changed in recent years and all the new trends that have emerged:
Popular Trends in the Data Center Industry
1. Colocation Data Centers
Colocation data centers are becoming more and more popular these days. Basically, this means that companies don’t house their servers and networking equipment in their own premises but instead rent space with third-party data centers or colocation data centers. Since these colocation data centers are shared premises, many companies share the costs of cooling, power, etc. that are necessary for a data center. This is much cheaper for companies than building new data centers exclusively for their own use. Another advantage of colocation data centers is that companies have full control over their own servers and networking equipment just like they would have with in-house data centers while getting higher reliability in colocation data centers.
2. Hyperscale Data Centers
As more and more companies are dealing with increased data management, the demand for Hyperscale data centers is increasing as well. These data centers are just what their name claims, which are insanely large data centers with the ability to scale on demand. In fact, data centers are called Hyperscale when they hold more than 5,000 servers in a physical area exceeding 10,000 square feet. Compare this with conventional enterprise data centers that can hold around 1000 servers. Most of the big tech companies in the world like Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. have Hyperscale data centers created in places where there is lots of space, cheap land, and cool temperatures to save on cooling costs. All in all, these Hyperscale data centers are critical in this data age for managing the huge amounts of data created daily from IoT devices, social media, big data analytics, etc.
3. Smart Cooling Technology
Cooling is an integral part of data centers but most companies have used traditional air conditioning methods for cooling. Considering that these lead to huge costs and up to 40% of total energy consumption for the data centers, it’s obvious that new and innovative cooling techniques are required. And Artificial Intelligence is a big help in this. AI-based algorithms can be used to create smart cooling technologies for data centers that monitor the internal temperature and automatically adjust the cooling to maintain a consistent internal environment. Google uses its resident artificial intelligence company, DeepMind to manage the internal environment of one of its Hyperscale data centers, and they have reduced the cooling bill by approximately 40 percent!!!
4. Virtualized Data Centers
It is possible to have virtualized data centers as a part of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that are sold to client companies. Using this, many companies can have their own individual virtual data centers on the same physical server that is virtually separated to provide privacy and flexibility to each individual company. These virtualized data centers ensure that many companies can cheaply and efficiently store their data centers in a single physical location and then the power and cooling costs are divided between them. These cost savings mean that companies can invest their money in other avenues as well and not just in privately owned data centers.
5. Edge Computing
Edge Computing makes sure that the computational and data centers are closer to the edge. This edge may be the network edge where the device communicates with the internet or where the local network which contains the device communicates with the internet. Whatever the edge, the important part of edge computing is that the computational and data centers are geographically close to the devices where the data is created or where it is consumed. This is a better alternative than having these storage centers in a central geographical location which is actually thousands of miles from the data being produced or used. Edge Computing ensures that there is no latency in the data that can affect an application’s performance, which is even more important for real-time data. It also processes and stores the data locally in storage devices rather than in central cloud-based locations which means companies also save money in data transmission.
6. Talent Management
Talent management is an extremely critical part of the data center industry. And it’s even more important in this sphere because there is a severe lack of talent in this industry with the majority of employees being older and male. There are very few new recruitments for data centers which has led to the fears that much of the specialized knowledge may be lost if the current employees retire or leave their jobs. Although the data center industry is growing by leaps and bounds in this data age, there is still a scarcity of goof talent in this field and also a lack of diversity. In fact, women constitute less than 6% of the workforce which is a situation that needs to be improved along with training the required talent for the data center industry.
7. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is very important in the data science industry just like almost every other industry these days! Google already uses its AI company DeepMind to manage the cooling technology of one of its Hyperscale data centers in order to reduce cooling costs. Artificial Intelligence can also be used to provide security in data centers from any intruding cybercriminals. They can help in detecting and defending against any intruders in the system using past insights into intruder activity patterns. There is also an acute shortage of talent in the data center industry but AI can help here as well. It can assist with different server functions and automate various processes in the data center such as security patches, systems updates, file backups, etc. while leaving the specialized tasks to the data center personnel.
All the trends given above have changed the data center industry in multiple ways. Colocation data centers and Virtualized data centers have provided more opportunities to smaller and medium-sized companies to have their own data centers with the insane costs of hosting them on-premises. Also, technologies like artificial intelligence and edge computing have streamlined data centers and made access to data much faster. Hyperscale data centers are also a necessary requirement in this data age when the amounts of data generated every day are increasing at breakneck speeds. All in all, these trends have made data centers more efficient and achievable than ever before. And who knows, future innovations may change this industry even further and take it to a whole new level!