What Is Fuelling Data Centre Success?


With the world producing more data than ever before, it all needs to live somewhere. Timothy Arnold, colo technology director at Six Degrees Group, looks at what is fuelling the data centre success story.

A look at 451 Research’s quarterly Datacentre Knowledgebase (DCKB) report underlines how important the development of the global data centre industry is becoming. There are now over 4,500 data centres in operation around the world and investment in the sector is growing at over 10% per year.

From data growth, compliance and shifts in IT strategy, to the need for constant connectivity, resilience and security, these trends are creating a global data centre success story.

Timothy Arnold, colo technology director, Six Degrees Group

A world awash with data

Data growth is accelerating enormously; whether it’s the 768 Instagram photos, 7,523 tweets or 2 million+ emails we are generating every second, all of that data has to live somewhere. Add to this the myriad of other data sources which make up the data economy, and it is easy to see that the world is dealing with a rise in data creation like never before.

According to IDC, by 2025 there will be 163 zettabytes of data – that’s 163 trillion GBs – in existence. To give this enormous figure some perspective, one human brain has the storage capacity of 1 million GBs, so we are dealing with – literally – mind-boggling amounts of data.

Whether an organisation has a private cloud or a hybrid solution, through a managed service provider or a public cloud supplier like AWS, they wouldn’t be able to function without a data centre somewhere in their IT architecture. It is easy to forget in such a cloud centric landscape that the infrastructure has to live somewhere and that data centres house these cloud services and cloud based resources. As 86% of workloads are expected to be processed through the cloud by 2020 and new data is created every second, data centres will continue to be in high demand.

Mobile data is also growing dramatically, with around 3.7 exabytes being added to the global data mountain every month. With 5G implementation expected in 2020, we are sure to see significant growth in supporting data centre facilities, as companies prepare their data centres for increased data volumes.

For data centre providers and data centre users, now is not the time for hesitation. The next couple of years are set to see huge changes in the way we store, transmit and receive data and those who come out on top will be the businesses who are preparing for the change today.

Compliance, compliance, compliance

As the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) continues to make headlines daily, compliance and security are at the top of the agenda for business leaders. The single, European-wide law for data protection raises pressing questions about data centres, location and risk that will need to be addressed in the coming year.

Primarily UK businesses are concerned about where their data is being stored and whether or not they will be at risk of being hit with fines of up to €20m if they aren’t prepared for GDPR in time. Data centre providers are key players in helping these companies to be safeguarded and therefore put at less risk. Following Brexit, it is more important than ever for data centre providers to be GDPR compliant because UK businesses with a data flow in Europe (which is practically all of them) will look elsewhere if facilities are not in line with EU regulations.

Colocation and Edge

According to Structure research, the global colocation market grew to over $33bn in 2016, and is expected to keep growing rapidly this year.

Alongside the massive impact of public cloud providers, such as Amazon and Microsoft, businesses are increasingly looking to third party providers to manage their colocation requirements. Providers with smaller, diversely located facilities have grown in size as companies recognise that colocation is central to keeping their data safe and secure.

Interestingly, 451 Research’s latest DCKB report also highlights the noticeable expansion of services in ‘edge’ markets outside of the global top 20. As a global report, ‘edge’ refers to a country, or even an entire continent like Africa, whereas more established markets use this term to refer to a local geographic area within a single country. Due to the vast amount of data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT), both of these definitions of edge are set to explode. Indeed, IHS Markit has forecasted that by 2020 the IoT market will have grown to 30.7 billion devices from 15.4 in 2015, and that by 2025, the IoT install base will be at 75.4 billion devices. With this in mind, the need to keep data as close to the user as practically possible will be of greater importance.

While demand like this continues to fuel the growth of global tech trends such as cloud, IoT and mobile, our collective need for data centres will follow. In a world built on data, the data centre success story shows no sign of ending.