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Making smarter choices for the future often depends on being as informed as possible on present trends. For data center professionals and colocation providers, that means keeping abreast of the data center market and remaining informed about future growth strategies to implement and areas of risk mitigation.
In 2018, more than 100,000 individuals visited the Schneider Electric and APC blog sites to read our executives’ and subject matter experts’ opinions of IT technology and industry topics. We identified the top viewed blog posts of the year that garnered the most attention from you, our readers. Here are the four main themes that caught your eye:
1. Data center market trends: Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, edge computing
Blogs that discussed AI and machine learning were popular as they explained how these new technologies are increasing the intelligence and automation of data center physical infrastructure equipment and management systems. In 2018, AI tools helped data centers become more reliable and efficient both in terms of energy use and operations. Colocation providers – surveyed by Schneider Electric – identified three key challenges to overcome in order to widen AI adoption within their sites:
- Higher quality data center instrumentation
- Consolidation of data that currently resides in disparate systems
- A need for better data integrity
Edge computing blogs also attracted a high level of attention, so much so, that we defined 2018 “The Year of Edge.” In order to drive device response speeds that accommodate both business critical, end user requirements and the data intensive video-based entertainment demand, IT departments will need to upgrade their back-end data center design. Both edge micro data centers and large cloud data centers will need to work together in a hybrid ecosystem to meet these end user and consumer expectations.
And, the interest wasn’t limit to our blog readers. According to the cloud and service providers who attended our Innovation Summit in May, AI and edge computing were viewed as the most anticipated potential disruptors to the data center business over the next 3-5 years.
2. IT and data center workforce topics: Retail stores and colocation talent acquisition
A topic that peaked my interest this year, and also yours, was about all of you…. the IT and data center industry professional workforce.
And, for good reason. This year, we saw an uptick in traditional retail stores ramping up their local technology onsite to compete and complement the on-line shopping surge. On the other hand, some established online retailers branched off into brick and mortar retail stores to connect with their customers face-to-face. The technology in these new stores focuses heavily on data gathering and analytics and are becoming business-critical. Most retailers find themselves now having to manage hundreds or even thousands of these sites at a much higher level of resiliency than the past. However dedicating IT staff for edge support is neither practical nor affordable at this scale. These environments will require sophisticated tools that enable a “lights out” approach to management.
Further, the issue of talent acquisition also garnered the interest of colocation partners, and our readers. To learn more, I hosted a roundtable discussion at the Schneider Electric International Colocation Club in London, England. Participants expressed concern that the current talent shortage could negatively impact the speed of business growth. However, some innovative approaches were discussed to address the issue. Solutions included colocation industry awareness programs targeting millennials coming out of colleges and universities.
More recently, I looked into key strategies for broadening the talent pool even further.
3. Data center optimization and efficiency: Energy consumption
On the energy consumption front, over the next few decades, demand for energy will increase by about 50% (1.5 times what it is today). During that same time period, however, CO2 emissions will need to be cut in half, in order to meet global climate control goals. Although renewable energy will play a big role, thanks to advancements in solar, wind, and energy storage technologies, far greater CO2 reductions will be achieved through efficiency gains. This will be attributed in part to optimizing current physical infrastructures like factories, buildings and data centers. With data centers alone consuming a decent proportion of countries’ total energy consumption (US data centers alone consume 2%), those in the data center industry that focus on sustainability are taking important, socially responsible actions.
4. Adoption of new technologies: Open Compute
There was also clear interest on the part of our readers in open compute architecture. In 2018 the Open Compute Project (OCP) Foundation evolved in its mission to enable the delivery of the most efficient server, storage, and data center hardware designs for scalable computing. OCP, over its short history, has been quite successful in its efforts to share member best practices for designing and building servers that take up less space and consume less energy.
In addition to hyperscale operators, colocation providers are now examining the benefits of IT solutions that are deemed compliant to Open Compute Project (OCP) standards. Efforts are now underway to “spread the wealth” of data center IT efficiency by allowing more companies to access channels and supply chains that can enable them to purchase OCP products in much smaller and more affordable quantities.
What data center topics would you look to see covered in the new year?
We want to learn more about what topics will be of interest to you in 2019. Please share your input by commenting below!