The Uptime Institute’s latest report suggest that the transition to distributed resilience will not be smooth, artificial intelligence will continue to come to the fore, while data centres will be forced to develop new strategies in the face of ongoing skills shortages
The Uptime Institute has warned that disruptive and often high-profile outages will continue as operators grapple with the complexities of deploying distributed, hybrid systems across multiple data centres and services.
The Uptime Institute’s report, Top 10 Data Centre Industry Trends for 2019, says that the IT industry is in the middle of a large and difficult transition – from single, secure, and tightly managed data centres, to a network of distributed, dynamically interconnected systems deploying clouds, micro services, and software-defined networks (SDN). The new architecture is emerging over time, being constructed partly with new data centres, networks and systems, and partly by building on top of existing infrastructure. The result is a complicated distributed grid that supports an array of applications and services.
The report comments that the best – but not necessarily the cheapest – way to ensure resiliency is to combine site and network level redundancy with distributed IT and resilient architectures using cloud technologies. However, some painful and sometimes high-profile lessons will be learned, as the industry moves in this direction in 2019.
Climate change threat
The Uptime Institute also warns that rising seas, higher and frequent floodwaters, more violent storms and other effects caused by climate change may pose an unexpected and potentially large challenge to data centre operators. According to Uptime Institute, even where a facility rides out the challenges unharmed, damage to local infrastructure can deprive a facility of staff, utilities and fuel, and access to telecommunications.
Data centre operators need to mitigate these consequences by conducting frequent facility availability assessments, with particular emphasis on how flooding or drought, high winds, and warmer temperatures would affect the facility’s ability to cope with new extremes.
Cutting power costs
Another big challenge for operators is to cut power costs without increasing risk. Power costs can be reduced in three areas:
•Operations: where energy overhead (ie PUE) can be reduced
• IT load: where utilisation can be driven up or gear power consumption be driven down
•Supply: regarding utility costs, storage and service commitments
Trends for 2019
Along with these challenges the Uptime Institute report identifies 10 areas that data centre owners and operators should pay close attention to in 2019. (https://uptimeinstitute.com/top-10-data-centre-industry-trends-for-2019) These include:
• Big Cloud builds push the ecosystem to its limits: The accelerating demands of the big cloud operators for more data centre capacity are distorting and straining the ecosystem of suppliers, builders, operators, and power companies.
• Worried governments step up oversight and regulation: Governments around the world are becoming more concerned about the profits and power of large IT companies – and about societies’ dependency on invisible infrastructure.
• The transition to distributed resiliency will not be smooth: Disruptive and often high-profile outages will continue as operators grapple with the complexities of deploying distributed, hybrid systems across multiple data centres and services.
• Edge data centre hype outruns deployment: The demand for small, edge data centres is coming more slowly than predicted. Issues with security, costs, business models, integration, networking and 5G rollout will constrain adoption.
• Connectivity is king: Demand for fast and secure network connections to both trading partners and cloud operators continues to grow as the network becomes the critical component of the hybrid infrastructure.
• Skills shortage will force new workforce strategies: Even with automation and AI, the data centre sector’s staff shortages are set to intensify. To keep pace with demand today and to avoid a precipitous shortfall tomorrow, data centre operators will work to diversify the talent pool with new initiatives, hiring strategies, and workforce training.
• Climate change forces fresh review of resiliency planning: The risks associated with climate change may be more urgent, varied and extensive than IT planning had previously anticipated. Data centre resilience assessment is more critical today than ever.
• Economics will drive acceptance of data centre AI… eventually: AI-based approaches to analysing data centre risk and efficiencies, including via new cloud services, will be proven at scale, driving mainstream acceptance and, over time, high levels of adoption.
• Growing threats will necessitate new ‘zero-trust’ approaches: Security vulnerabilities now affect mission-critical facilities. There is a need to adopt more stringent policies regarding data centre equipment, services, contractors, suppliers and staff.
• Programmable power unlocks new efficiencies and agility: A combination of Lithium-ion batteries and other new forms of energy storage gives data centre operators a new set of levers to help improve data centre performance.
The data centre industry is changing at a pace never seen before. Innovations in networking, power and resiliency are creating new opportunities, as well as creating challenges. Data centre managers will need to keep a close eye on these trends in the coming year.