Home Business A cloudy outlook: The top three data centre trends to look out for in 2022

A cloudy outlook: The top three data centre trends to look out for in 2022

by wrich

Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK

The upheaval of the last two years has rapidly accelerated digitisation throughout both the workplace and the home, resulting in a significant increase in demand for data centres and the services they offer.

Throughout 2021, organisations of all shapes and sizes evolved their working practices to fit the ‘Next Normal’, implementing digital infrastructure that enables faster, easier hybrid/remote working practices and opens up new routes to market. On top of this, the industrial manufacturing sector has continued to digitally transform on a grand scale as it further invests in Industry 4.0 technologies that boost productivity and streamline operational efficiency.

Inside the home, more and more consumers are embracing the Internet of Things, from smart TVs and fridges to thermostats, speakers and more.  Consequently, the value of the global smart home market is expected to hit an incredible $138.9 billion by 2026.

As you might expect, all of this means data centre providers are racing to keep up with the pace of change and the added demand that comes with it. With this in mind, below are three of the top trends expected to take centre stage throughout 2022.

Accelerated transition to hybrid cloud models 

Throughout the pandemic, many businesses have turned to ‘hyperscalers’ like Google Cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure to maintain business efficiency during the unprecedented shift to remote working. As organisations re-evaluate their emergency infrastructure plans, many are rethinking how best to optimise their cloud resources and settling on a hybrid cloud approach. They are absolutely right to do so.

Over-reliance on public cloud typically results in companies spending more money than they need to, with any attempts to quickly scale services resulting in even higher costs. Alternatively, by partnering with an IaaS provider and limiting public cloud usage to supporting peak loads and less traffic-intensive applications, it’s possible to reduce latency times while also cutting costs in the long run. As more businesses wise up to these benefits, expect the pace of hybrid cloud adoption to rapidly accelerate.

Good CIOs also know that cloud management optimisation isn’t a ‘one-and-done’ process. It must be regularly revisited, reviewed and revised to maintain peak efficiency.  Indeed, an increasing number now recognise the biggest benefit of the hybrid world is the ability to continuously change, move and redeploy workloads to best suit business needs at any given time. This could be due to seasonal peaks or rapid growth periods for the business, or equally during downturns. What matters is having the capacity they need, when they need it. 

Growing prevalence of automation and self-service

The ongoing pandemic has caused a major shift in what both B2B and B2C customers expect from their data centre providers, many of whom have had to rapidly adapt their business models and services to meet these new expectations. 

In 2022, expect more services to be dictated by customers looking to get things done on terms and timescales that are best suited to them, leading to significant growth in demand  for self-service and automated offerings. In fact, Gartner predicts 60 percent of organisations will have adopted infrastructure automation tools by 2025.

Consequently, data centre operators must automate and streamline their services to deliver the flexibility and transparency their customers want. This includes evaluating how best to optimise controlled infrastructure environments where customers can quickly self-serve through automated applications.

Greater emphasis on sustainability

As demonstrated by COP26 last year, the need for greater sustainability and energy efficiency is rapidly rising up the global agenda. So much so, that businesses in numerous technology sectors are already starting to use it as a key differentiator. 

Data centres do not traditionally lend themselves to being environmentally friendly, requiring large amounts of equipment, space, water and power to run effectively. However, with sustainability now a top priority for many customers, things need to change. 

In January 2021, a large number of European data centre and cloud operators signed a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030. Backed by 17 industry bodies, the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact set out clear targets for efficiency and the use of green energy, as well as the introduction of ‘circular economy’ practices across the industry. 

As a result, data centre operators must now go above and beyond when it comes to reducing their environmental impact, which means taking meaningful, measurable action to improve energy efficiency. There are many ways to achieve this, from retiring redundant servers and replacing old infrastructure, to making greater use of tools that enable operators to reclaim unused power and redistribute it to other areas of the facility. 

While the last two years has seen demand for data centres rise to unprecedented levels, their environmental impact has never been under closer scrutiny. As such, data centre operators now face a delicate juggling act of expanding the services they offer to customers while simultaneously improving energy efficiency and sustainability throughout their facilities. How they tackle these challenges over the next 12 months and beyond will be very interesting to see.

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