As we enter a new year, it’s time to reflect on the data centre’s future direction. Naturally, the pace of innovation is such that it’s always a challenge to predict what’s in store for 2017. However, there are some trends and patterns that give indications as to where the industry is headed.
The impact of flash
According to IDC, all-flash systems registered a 76.4% year on year growth, fuelled by ‘continued interest in software-defined storage, hyperconverged infrastructure, and cloud buildouts in mature economies’. As faster speed becomes the norm, data centres will need to offer other ways for companies to gain competitive advantage. Alongside flash arrays, expect to a growth in demand for colocation, and interconnectivity – partners connecting directly to each other rather than via the public internet, for increased speed and security.
Hybrid and colocation the way forward in APAC
A 27% growth in internet users (up to 1.83 billion), compared to 19% globally, means the Asia Pacific region is now home to more than half of the world’s internet users. However, in APAC it’s important to look beyond the headline figures. Because mature markets – Japan and Australia for example – are grouped with emerging, in countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. Then there’s China – its sheer size makes it a standalone case. Within this diversity, there will be a rise in hardware obsolescence (affecting 30% of large and midsize APAC businesses in the next two years according to IDC). As a result, expect to see a rise in hybrid cloud and colocation solutions, to support transformation from traditional infrastructure and to meet the growth in demand from users.
New opportunities in data
Increased data volumes (44 trillion GB by 2020) will drive demand for data scientists and big data engineers in 2017. In the US, salaries in these roles are expected to grow by around 6%. And as more and more companies embrace Artificial intelligence, there will be also be increased demand for employees who can direct AI systems. This role, termed ‘AI Supervisor’ by Tomer Nadvehz, Adgorithms CTO, will ‘see people shifting from doing tasks by themselves, to supervising AI software on how to do it for them.”
Virtual data centre tours
IDC predicts revenue from augmented and virtual reality to grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion by 2020. Across industries the technology is being applied to deliver immersive experiences, so expect this to carry over to the data centre industry. Specifically, virtual data centre tours to prospective clients, instead of arranging for physical visits. The tour can be shown to a larger number of stakeholders. What’s more a virtual tour could enable virtual visits to areas that would be off-limits in person, such as the electrical room.
Connectivity and the 5G question
Specifications for 5G have yet to be agreed, however, reports suggest speeds of up to 100 times faster than 4G. Of course, we’re a while away from mainstream adoption (former Mayor of London Boris Johnson promised 5G in the capital by 2020), 5G bandwidth has the potential to obviate the data crunch. It also will be a crucial part of enabling IoT. That’s why data centre managers will use 2017 to start planning for 5G capacity.
Healthcare and data discounts
The healthcare industry will continue to innovate, thanks to the increased use of wearables which monitor health and fitness. Insurance schemes which reward daily activities such as gym sessions, walking or cycling, will become increasingly common. This will mean increased reliance on data centres, where users’ fitness-related data will need to be uploaded, stored and secured