I consider myself a veteran of the data center design industry. Additionally, I have the good fortune to visit as many as fifty data centers and computer rooms in the course of a year. And while I have seen good ones and bad ones, they all seem to share certain commonalities. As a result of my experiences and research covering a broad scope of concerns, I have compiled a list of the challenges the data center industry as a whole will face over the next few years.
The talent pool of senior level experts is disappearing. Worse yet, as a nation we have not educated tomorrow’s engineers and/or technicians. This severe lack of experts will be an ever present obstacle to sustainable corporate growth due to technology evolution. In turn, this threatens the nation’s overall economic growth and will cause the United States to fall as the technical leader of the world. Our only saving grace will be to embrace the new world order and adapt to global solutions.
The original equipment manufacturers will own the data center design space. This is their best recourse in maintaining an ability to sell their ever improving infrastructure to customers with old, out-dated, ill-prepared facilities. A further prediction is that it will be difficult for these OEMs to provide heterogeneous and not self-serving designs. And even if they can, will clients believe it to be so?
Big surprise, data centers and computer rooms nationwide are running out of power, cooling, and space. Furthermore, due to the high capital cost and the time it takes to undertake a computer room improvement project, operators will choose not to. My prediction is that this will lead to business impacting disruptions for at least 20% of businesses over the next three (3) years.
We will run out of utility power producing capacity as a nation before the technical revolution is over. Furthermore, no amount of ‘green’ building will prohibit this from inevitably happening. Like virtualization has been for processing capacity, ‘greenness’ is only an incremental band aid on the proverbial bullet wound. My prediction is that the U.S. will experience more wide area outages, such as the one in August of 2003, in the near future.
As the saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. We had better hope so. My final prediction is that our technological leadership as a nation will be saved not by a band aid application, by a grassroots conservation effort, or by sheer will alone. Ultimately, it will be saved by a sweeping improvement in the efficiency of how power is used by IT infrastructure. Materials research within the semiconductor industry will yield a massive reduction in the power dissipation of IT infrastructure. As a result, companies worldwide will take advantage by refreshing their IT equipment, thus allowing them to survive using their existing aging facilities and support infrastructure.
What is your number one prediction for the industry in the coming years? Whether you are optimistic or foresee doom and gloom, I would love to hear what you think.