Cloud platforms and social media networks are the main customers of the data center industry. The growth of these “hyperscale” customers has driven a global boom in building digital infrastructure. Can this incredible large-scale investment in data centers continue?
That’s our topic as we launch our quarterly Data Center Frontiers Roundtable, which features the views of three thought leaders on the state of the data center industry. Hyper-scale demand is just one of the topics we’ll be looking at this week’s Our Third Quarter 2022 roundtable, which will also explore several other relevant topics: the impact of water scarcity on design, growth prospects for second-tier markets and the best strategies for adapting to power constraints in a growing number of large markets.
Here is an overview of our distinguished panel.
Each day this week, I will be moderating a Q&A with these leaders on one of our key topics. We begin with our panel’s perspective on the state of large-scale computing.
Data center boundary: We have seen extraordinary demand for data center space so far in 2022. What is driving the high demand for data center capacity?
Ryan Baumann, Kohler Power Systems: Many factors point to the high demand for data center capacity. The onset of the COVID pandemic has dramatically changed the way we work, in many ways for the better. Initially, out of necessity, we transformed the traditional work environment of communal office spaces and in-person collaboration into home offices with online meetings. These new digital workloads have become commonplace and drive a need for continued growth in the data center industry.
Not only is the traditional office environment changing, but the industrial environment is also changing. Equipment and facilities in sectors such as manufacturing, refining and agriculture are all finding new ways to increase efficiency through technologies that collect new data points and advance automation. This extended the demand for data and transmission to new locations and markets.
Additionally, we are seeing the use and creation of data among increasingly younger consumers. The youngest and oldest in our households are connected and generating data at a staggering rate. This is absolutely the new normal, and certainly not a slight uptick. This technological renaissance will continue to drive growth in the data center industry as we continue to digitize and decentralize the workplace. It’s exciting to be a part of it and to imagine where data will take us in the future is really exciting.
John-David Enright, TMGcore: Innovation and integration in/of technology is, in my opinion, the main driver of this growth. The exponential integration of AI, data analytics and other HPC applications in market segments such as healthcare, e-commerce, national security and defense, travel and entertainment, etc. is a major factor for this. Moreover, there is still a lot of growth potential in DeFi (decentralized finance via blockchains) to be realized, which will add to this growth in the coming decade.
Is this a “new normal” or a temporary spike? I like this growth to that of Moore’s Law. As long as the speed of innovation can be matched and supported by the required infrastructure and consumer demand, we will continue this type of growth curve. That said, these things need to be paced for growth to continue and thus set a “new normal”. There are several other factors that contribute to this, however, the ones I mentioned may be the most important.
Rhea Williams, Oracle and Infrastructure Masons: Competition between CSPs (cloud service providers) and energy scarcity are pushing users to look beyond the current fiscal year and into the next 60 months or beyond to secure capacity. The mass movement of enterprise to the cloud will continue.
I don’t see this as temporary. Our demand signal has increased exponentially and shows no signs of slowing down.
NEXT: How Should the Data Center Industry Respond to Water Scarcity?