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Data Centers in 2020 and Beyond



Data Centers

Data Center pre COVID era:

Whatever the IT landscape has been up until 2020 is now changing drastically over in 2020 and going forward. IT companies and data centers are no exception to this change. IT professionals are generally used to dealing with a lot of unexpected things ranging from security issues to highly complex workloads. But whatever the change be, no one was really prepared for the changes we saw in the COVID era.

Data Center

Data Center

On ground reality is that, IT disruptions were still a much-faced reality. It would include a simple throwing of switch to a complex router management and even upgrading of business applications. But here is the thing, although the datacenters knew the customer locations, they were still helpless, or the services were hampered very badly due to the lockdown restrictions.

As per Gartner studies forecast, the infrastructure spend with end user perspective to set to rise by 6% from that of 2020 to $200 bn in 2021. 2020 was a year of survival, which was true for all the companies. Hence the Data center spend was not a priority, which could change in 2021, thereby increasing the spend forecast by 6%.

The report further also states that the Data center infrastructure spend is bound to increase annually up until 2024. But also, for the companies in order to make a good profit margin the thrust could be more in the cloud space. In the post COVID era, when the companies will place more emphasis on digital transformation, the Data centers will also not be spared. Sustainability will be the next most important phase for these companies.

Data Center post COVID era:

In the COVID era it is practically very tough to move physical servers due to various travel restrictions. This has forced the data centers to look at automations, robotics and AI in a new light. These companies have now realized that investing in these technologies can help them sustain for a longer period compared to companies not investing in these technologies. Hence Data Centers are these days using AI on cloud. This Cloud based AI is called as DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management). This is mainly used in predictive analytics and performance benchmarking for the company. This is merged with other technologies to give pre-emptive alerts to the DC. It lets the Data Center know when, where and how there could a possible failure. This allows the employees in the DC to remotely monitor the performance of the devices.

Looking at the flip side what we see is that these Data Centers are part of any economy. Their main business model is to sell their services to anyone that is willing to pay for the same. But with the current economic trends, where many global economies are being tanked very badly, these Data Center’s are also not left untouched. Although these DC’s up until now have enabled digital commerce and online meeting, which for sure for these companies have given a sense of achievement. But still the truth is that many companies are facing it hard to pay the bills, thereby forcing a shutdown too in many instances. Industries that are very worst affected mainly are entertainment, hospitality and event management sectors.

Let us imagine a scenario, suppose the Data Center team in in India but the main data farm is in US, and there has to be a server replaced there, how can a team based in India do it in the US considering the fact that there is travel restrictions? Well the answer to that is to have a datacenter with minimal staff. But again, if the staff to be hired in the US are qualified would the data farm also need some security too? Well Yes but we are talking of un-maned data farm.

When the COVID began most countries in early 2020 had to impose travel restrictions. But the Data center’s being working on advanced robotics and technologies came up with something call as Un-maned data farms. Basically, you would have security folks hired to provide security to these farms, with little to no knowledge on the Server replacement. Most of these activities can be done over by online meetings and the team in India telling the people in US on the steps to follow. Well, if we take a notch up, we could also design robots which will mimic human action and deal with the situation with minimal to no human interventions. But the initial cost of such robots will be high which the data centers should be ready to look into. This kind is basically called as Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM).

Finally, to operate these servers we need 2 major aspects 1:) Power and 2:) Space. With more and more companies that were opting to go into cloud, the need for the servers were ever increasing. But due to this pandemic these levels has reached unprecedented levels as of now. This has led to the companies getting in servers with higher power densities. The current power density is anywhere between 5 to 15 KW. But looking at the current trend it seems that this will be more than quadrupled in the coming future. Which means a direct increase in the power to space ratio of the Data centers. Unless they come up with something which is more efficient in energy and sustainable to meet the power requirements it will be a very tough ask.

Also, in the end to talk about innovation in data centers will be of absolute importance considering the thousands of liters water being used by these energy farms for cooling as well as operational purposes. With the recent global warming and water not being available for humans, the data centers will definitely have to come up with more better ways to efficiently utilize water resource so that the water usage effectiveness index can be brought down, thereby giving the data centers a green IT initiative outlook.

Data Centers

Data Centers

Conclusion for Data Centers:

Finally, to end it up saying that the data centers still have a long way to go, but the road is already identified, and more and more companies are moving in that direction of achievement. All that we can say, and hope is that more and more sustainable data centers come up so as to even the playing field.

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