Future of data centers in an ‘always online’ world

Whether privately run or shared by the public, data centers will become vital for hosting mission critical applications and streamlining information in the Internet of Things world.

Future of data centers in an ‘always online’ world

In 2018, computers accounted for 41 percent of total internet traffic. With the advent of 5G, smartphones will account for 44 percent of this traffic by 2022, with at least one third of all data passing through the cloud by 2020. The distinctive technological demands of mobile applications are driving data center facilities to become bigger than ever. By the end of 2018 there were over 400 such ‘hyperscale’ facilities around the world.1

There are nearly 8,000 data centers around the world, and more than 2,500 of them are concentrated in just 20 metropolitan hubs. Australia is one of the most mature data center markets in Asia Pacific. Despite increasing competition from countries in the region, like Singapore and Japan, the Australian data center industry continues to expand. Currently, Sydney is the primary location of data centers in Australia, with coastal cities like Melbourne and Brisbane fast emerging as key hubs. Hyper-scale cloud vendors are likely to spur demand for high-density power racks with each one of them drawing over 30 kW of electricity in the next three to five years.2

To keep electricity bills from mounting, innovative management tools are essential. Operations at a modern-day data center are best served by visibility into the interconnected systems, allowing aspects like power management and HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) to run in tandem. Latest digital switchgear and data center automation solutions from global technology leader, ABB, make this possible.

As we develop digital solutions for many industries, we can learn from the values of process industries such as semiconductor fab, oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals, all of which have similar needs as data centers. For instance, they all require continuous operations, reliability, ease of maintenance, safety for operators, grid interaction and efficiency. They have managed to have significant breakthroughs in all these areas, which we can utilize.

It is an exciting time for us, where gains of other industrial scale operations can be applied to data centers. The sheer scope of some operations make data centers an important user on the grid. More than 40 percent of the operating cost of a data center comprises of energy costs, with such facilities set to consume one fifth of the world’s energy by 2025.

The future holds promise on this front. Data Center operators will not be limited to being consumers, but become interactive contributors to smart grids, with the implementation of micro- and nano- grid techniques as well as alternate green and renewable energy systems, while maintaining world class reliability and uptime. Nearly 8 percent of all new data centers will be powered by clean energy by 2020. The industry is now better integrated with the power grid, and hyper-scaling is driving up efficiency.3

ABB’s industrial automation portfolio provides a shortcut to digitalization by “future proofing” existing infrastructure, without having to “rip and replace”, thereby boosting efficiency and saving costs. You can couple a smart circuit breaker, like ABB’s Emax 2, to power measurement and monitoring systems at facilities. One such solution, ABB Ability™ Electrical Distribution Control System, with its roots in power management for commercial buildings, can save up to 30 percent on operational costs.

The upcoming Data Center Dynamics event at the Sydney International Convention Centre on August 15 is an ideal platform for ABB to share its insights and technology highlights for the data center industry. Visit ABB in the Power Up Lounge to learn how digitalization can help operators gain real-time access to performance metrics and help increase safety, reliability and efficiency through predictive maintenance and better monitoring.

[1] Cisco Visual NetworkingIndex: Forecast and Trends,2017–2022

[2] https://cloudscene.com/market/data-centers-in-australia/all

[3] https://www.ciena.com/insights/articles/Twelve-Mind-blowing-Data-Center-Facts-You-Need-to-Know.html

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