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02.01.2019 5 min

Datacentres – The Past 20 Years and the Next 10 in 588 Words…


The demand for Data Services is rising and, currently, there is no foreseeable weakening in this demand. Essential to meeting this need are the physical facilities housing the equipment where Data can be Stored, Processed and Accessed, the Datacentre.

The “Connected” Datacentre as we know it has been in existence for only 20 years. Prior to that Data Processing and Storage was carried out on IT equipment housed in Computer Rooms located at customer premises with little Data Network Connectivity. 10 years ago, aided by the rapid expansion of Global Land and Subsea Optical Fibre Cable Networks, the Colocation industry had established itself alongside the on-premise Datacentres giving Users the opportunity to house their IT equipment in secure locations and access their Data over Data Networks. Now these Datacentres have now been joined by Cloud Datacentres offering on-demand Software and IT Infrastructure services. Over the next 10 years Cloud and Colocation Datacentres will be augmented by new types to meet new demands.

Datacentres types have evolved to suit different needs. On premise types tend to be small, in building and configured to a specific customer need. Colocation Datacentres have become large standalone buildings with a very flexible design that can be easily configured for future customer equipment needs. Cloud Datacentres are often referred to as Hyperscale and are largest of all with a design optimised for housing 100,000’s of Servers in a single location working as a single platform. These large Datacentres all have specific requirements for land, electricity, water and Data network connectivity which make selecting suitable locations difficult and limits their flexibility. They tend to be traditional building structures, often multi-storey to allow for efficient use of land. These locations and building types alone will not be suitable for supporting some new demands, especially mobile.

There is now a seemingly exponential demand for Data Services on Mobile Devices. A majority of User devices are now mobile, running on battery power and using pervasive 3/4G Cellular and WiFi Networks for connectivity. To efficiently manage them modern Applications, such as AI, AR etc… will seek to reserve Mobile Device Power for Input and Presentation of Data and offload Data Storage and Processing to “Edge” Datacentres. Increasingly there will be a need to place Datacentres closer to Users.

The Design Strategy for Edge Applications will be based on their Workload, Criticality and Latency needs. Workload will determine how many servers are needed to support it. Criticality will determine how robust the Edge Datacentre Systems and Network need to be. Latency, the Network speed at which it needs to communicate, will determine the location. Data Network cable speeds are ultimately limited so, to minimise Network delay, network cable physical length must be limited, and Datacentres placed near points of use.

“These Edge Datacentres will complement existing traditional Datacentres and act as hub, bridging the Datacentres, Data Networks, Mobile Devices, and the upcoming Billions of Internet of Things (IoT) Devices that will, increasingly, be embedded in every conceivable object including, probably, humans.”

Over the next 10 years numerous Edge Datacentres, supporting the needs of Smart Cities and Autonomous Vehicles, will be built enabled by the implementation of 5G Networks.

Traditional style Datacentre construction suits the needs of many Hyperscale and Colocation customers and will exist for years to come but is not directly applicable to many Edge and IoT infrastructure applications. New approaches will be needed to allow fast deployment of large numbers of smaller Datacentre facilities designed for unmanned operation in non-traditional locations where good local construction skills may not be available.

You can hear more from John Duffin at ADAPT’s Connected Cloud & Data Centre Edge event on 12-14 March in the Gold Coast as he speaks on “Toward 2022: Key Factors in Driving the Future of Connectivity in ASEAN”.

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