What next for the data centre industry?

08 December 2020 | James Hart

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James Hart

Blog Author | Guest contributor

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James Hart, CEO of BCS says the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to continue to impact the data centre industry throughout the next few years. However, there are other drivers in play, too

The B Word

Businesses continue to be faced with uncertainty over Brexit as the end of the transition period for leaving the European Union looms ever closer. What we do know is that there will be implications for many areas such as supply chains, imports and exports and employment that will affect the technology and datacentre sectors.

The uncertainty around Brexit has at the very least been unhelpful for the datacentre sector and regardless of whether we have a ‘no deal’ or ‘some kind of a deal’ there are likely to be challenges ahead. Will there be an increase in costs for organisations purchasing equipment from mainland Europe? Probably. Will this lead to a move towards the UK becoming more self-sufficient and onshoring more if its manufacturing? I hope so.

Getting Smart

By the end of 2021 every major city in the UK will be will have piloted 5G. 5G will move from concept to reality, bringing with it huge data capacity, high speeds, and low latency. 5G will be essential for supporting the smart city infrastructure of the future. Ranging from Intelligent public transit systems, smart buildings, and infrastructure plus connected public safety platforms are just some of the smart city innovations that are in development. As a result, there will be an increase in the need for datacentres in edge locations. This will in turn fuel the need for the rapid deployment of data centres - modular, containerised, and POD facilities.

Carbon commitment

Next year we are likely to see an increased focus on renewable energy. This is in part driven by the massive global players like Google who have joined Facebook, Apple and Microsoft in committing to put no excess carbon into the atmosphere. Facebook has also stated that it will become 100% supported by renewable energy and is committing to net-zero emissions for its entire “value chain” by 2030, including its suppliers and users.

As a result, there will be greater impetus to secure alternative power sources such as wind and solar as well as the use of battery storage. There are some exciting innovations such as new hydrogen cell technology that are showing some early, promising results.

There is no doubt that cloud will continue to dominate the sector, with hyperscalers that are designed to expand rapidly and host cloud services unlikely to slow down because of increased investment in public cloud services due to the pandemic. In fact, cloud will play a vital role in helping companies adapt to the ‘new normal’, enabling them to become more agile, responsive, and adaptive than ever before.

 The last 12 months has shown how important the sector is and how dependant the world is on this invisible infrastructure. The next 12 months will see it truly prove its resilience and agility.