What we learned at Datacloud Global Congress 2024

What we learned at Datacloud Global Congress 2024


Datacloud Global Congress wrapped in a brand-new venue in Cannes after two jam packed days. Over 150 speakers took to the three stages this year to share their perspectives on every aspect of the Datacentre ecosystem – here are six key takeaways.

The explosion of the AI revolution

The morning keynote with Noelle Walsh on day one, who manages cloud operations + innovation (CO+I) at Microsoft, said AI is poised to transform both our personal and professional lives with the company announcing substantial investment to increase its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure. AI data centres will become critical infrastructure, but with the rapid growth this also presents challenges around capacity, power, and environmental impact. AI was by far the most covered topic at the event, with almost all the panel discussions touching upon it and it is sure to continue to be a key topic on the agenda for next year as the industry grapples with how to implement AI automation in data centre operations.

The fight for power

The advent of AI workloads is transforming data centres and their relationship with the electrical grid. The fluctuating demands of AI tasks, particularly during the learning and writing phases, make AI data centres more challenging to manage in terms of energy stability than traditional data centres. The data centre industry is starting to question whether they must generate their own power, even in the short term or move to onsite generation. They can no longer expect to source the power they need within the required timeframes. Small modular reactors could play a role in solving the power availability conundrum. However, the main barriers are cost, licensing, political and regulatory hurdles, and societal judgement of nuclear power. While there are renewable options being utilised, the industry needs greater collaboration with traditional grids to solve the issue for the future.

Is sustainability stalling?

Microsoft set an ambitious goal to become carbon-negative by 2030, just one example of many targets across the industry with the next stage of evolution being net zero. There is a transformation of data centres into sustainable hubs powered by renewable energy and advanced technologies, whilst also supporting the local community and economy. There was also the discussion around large data centres as grid-interactive entities, not just off-takers, looking at the circular economy and the role that data centres will play. However, as AI pushes for more power consumption, sustainability goals will remain challenged.

The hunt for talent

There is a huge talent shortage across the whole ecosystem, and investment in talent is going to be vital to ESG strategies. With the growth that’s predicted the industry as a whole needs to come together to bridge the skills gap – without this, growth cannot be delivered, and projects cannot go ahead. With the development of AI and potentially new areas and ways of working, there is also some uncertainty as to what we should train people in – what are the key areas and how can we be upskilling people already working in the data centre industry? Playing our part in this, we invited 30 young talents to attend Datacloud Global Congress 2024 for free, enabling them to attend the conference and participate in customized talent workshops hoping to further their careers in the industry.

A push towards new markets

We’re seeing growth in secondary and tertiary markets as FLAP-D is now experiencing market saturation with high operational costs, and stricter regulatory challenges, which is leading stakeholders to look towards alternative locations. The most popular markets for new developments are Milan, Madrid and Warsaw. The need for data sovereignty, and the desire for lower latency, linked with the development of technologies such as 5G and IoT are also driving the demand for data centres in these regions. Sustainability is also a key driver, the ability to secure sustainable power sources are leading to growing interest in Europe’s secondary markets. We were also delighted to be joined by many of the data centre associations at the event including Host in Ireland, EUDCA and the Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian and Belgian Data Centre Associations. Representatives from across the Nordic data centre associations were also present.

What does a standard cooling solution look like in 2024?

We’re seeing a rapid change in the industry, with the big driver being high-density chips. The cooling options are growing with emersion technology, which is more aligned to much higher density, leading the way. However, the risks are now higher because of the high density, and this impacts the rack design based on how you use and operate them. There is also a big demand to migrate to direct-to-chip, which has fewer constraints and can use existing infrastructure. As data centre design continues to evolve, cooling options are likely to play a big part in this.

The growth of the industry

Datacloud Global Congress saw over 3000 attendees this year with the largest exhibition to date. This is down to an increase in the ecosystem as the industry adapts to increased demand from businesses, hyperscale and growing use of streaming and internet usage in regions such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. We’re also seeing developments in edge computing as 5G continues to expand connectivity. We expect this growth to continue, and with it Datacloud Global Congress, as the must-attend annual gathering for senior leaders and decision-makers in digital infrastructure.

Gift this article