Data has become the driving force behind nearly every industry across the globe. If a business isn’t collecting, generating, and analyzing data, chances are it won’t be around for much longer. As companies have grown to utilize data more frequently, data centers have become an indispensable tool that helps businesses expand their capabilities and offerings. At present, data centers are only barely able to handle the amount of data out there, but that is all set to change over the next decade as more and more data is generated. In fact, experts estimate the total data pool will increase to 44 times its current amount by the year 2020. As currently constituted, data centers won’t be able to work with that immense amount, which means data centers will need to evolve. As companies and CEOs prepare for the data centers of the future, they can expect to see a number of big changes.
As data has gotten bigger, data centers have had to stretch more and more to meet new demands. With so much hardware working in tandem, the amount of energy needed to power the equipment has multiplied. More equipment means more energy, which in turns means higher costs. The data centers of the future will be designed to counteract these costs by reducing energy consumption and creating more efficient environments for high density infrastructures. This can be done in a number of ways, and data centers are expected to test out various methods. Expect data centers of the future to find alternative ways to cool hardware. One idea being devised is to have data centers connected to oceans, where companies can use seawater to cool the machines while also using solar and wind power to generate energy. Some data centers are even being built in cold weather climates to take advantage of the natural environment. All these advances could lead to energy efficient data centers and, as a consequence, lower costs.
There are other ways data centers will lower costs, mostly by maximizing overall efficiency. For years, data centers have been thought of as mainly hardware, but their evolution will inevitably lead to a more software-centric environment. This can be done in a number of ways, but a very common method is through the use of virtualization. With virtualization software, virtual environments are much easier to create and manage, and this change allows for data virtualization as well. Software can also help data centers be more flexible in their workloads, responding as needed to changes in demands and allocating resources wherever needed at just the right time. This also means more automation for the most common IT operations. When everything is taken into account, a focus on software over hardware can also eliminate depreciation cycles for data centers, which will also be a significant cost savings.
Other innovations will drive further changes in the data centers of tomorrow. Many of the same components found within today’s smartphones will likely eventually make their way to data centers. While hardware remains a key feature of data centers, many experts believe current hardware has reached its limit when it comes to power and cooling. Instead, data centers will use current smartphone technology to make mobile components the primary equipment. These smaller components will require less energy, less physical space, and will already be optimized for extreme temperature variations. The new mobile-defined data centers will also be able to handle cloud computing demands more efficiently as the shift to the cloud continues to grow.
The data centers of the future will also have new features designed to increase security and privacy. Some data centers have already taken this step, introducing new encryption techniques created to secure data as it is transferred from one data center to the next. As more data is stored on the cloud, companies will prioritize security features that will protect sensitive information. Data centers may also become more convenient in the future through modular data centers. The idea is to have a data center that can be easily transported and deployed wherever it is needed. This provides a data center solution without the cost of actually constructing a data center.
While some of these predictions will likely come true, other innovations will be introduced that could easily transform the data center landscape even further. The important thing for CEOs to do is to continue researching what the latest technologies have to offer. As data centers continue to advance, they’ll become an even more important part of how companies operate, giving them the resources and tools needed to make strides into the future.