Digital scene with human in data centre; Digital scene with human in data centre;

Data centres shift to a digital future

Our societal and business reliance on data is growing exponentially as we move towards a digitalised world.

In recent years, data centre demand has primarily been driven by the cloud giants – enterprise companies, financial institutions, government agencies have all been moving to the cloud. Hyperscalers are leading the way in a market expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.25% over forecast period 2019-20241.

So, what are the trends that continue to drive this growth of data centres into the ‘20s?

Today greater numbers of enterprises are migrating their data centres to the cloud, and hybrid systems have started coming more into effect where enterprises mix inhouse computing with the movement of larger systems to the cloud.

Growth in power demand continues to outweigh the many gains in energy efficiency that we are seeing in data centres – a shift to sustainable power and recognition of the UN SDGs has started. We will see more of a shift to renewable energy as data centre operators move to a carbon neutral footprint.

COVID-19, it seems, has caused seismic shifts to both usage patterns and scale of activity. Businesses moving operations to the cloud, a work from home workforce, remote learning through education providers etc, all means that data centres are continuing to expand, seemingly at an even faster pace than before.

Digital trends will continue to drive data centre growth – artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, robotics and IoT.  And with AI growth, Edge data centres will play a critical role in the ability to store and analyse data closer to the source.

In a world where we want everything faster, cheaper, bigger, it makes sense that we move to a digital way of working, where everything is automated, from the designs we carry out to the products we build, manage and operate.

Digital services and automation will be the way forward. 

One thing that COVID-19 has thrown up is the difficulty in accessing our data centre sites...Remote monitoring and controlling will become essential to business as usual. ”

Dave Martin Dave Martin Principal

One thing that COVID-19 has thrown up is the difficulty in accessing our data centre sites. Access varies depending on the impact of COVID in different parts of the world, but it has been an issue regardless.

Data centres are inherently highly operational, and maintenance focussed.  They require constant monitoring – to manage assets, equipment, maintenance, capacity etc. And monitoring to ensure that efficiencies can be measured and systems optimised on an ongoing basis, particularly as capacity demands change. 

From using GIS mapping to help clients with site selection, through automation of design and on to support and operations, the digital future is here.

Automation of our designs is something we’ve been working on for some time – it both enhances our ways of working with our clients and helps realise efficiencies in both cost and speed of delivery.

Remote monitoring and controlling will become essential to business as usual. We work with our clients to enable this remote tracking, to determine and understand asset condition, monitor temperature or degradation of systems etc.

Virtual and augmented reality allows us to take a virtual tour through a data centre. It allows opportunity to superimpose systems, spaces and fit outs. By implementing augmented reality with digital twinning, we could go as far as operating and testing systems without the need to be on site at all. 

Digital twinning allows for Revit and BIM models to be linked to support asset management and operations. When followed through, in the data centre, it will allow for more efficient facility management and operations, monitoring and analysing, fault finding and fault mitigation. 

Although still at early stages of development, I believe that it’s these initiatives coupled with the remote working environment that we have been forced into that will be the injection that’s needed to drive digital ways of working forward. 

1 (Hyperscale Datacenter Market - Growth, Trends, Forecast (2020 - 2025)