2021 Data Center Trends and Predictions

February 1, 2021

Everything that happened in 2020 drove rapid changes in technology, such as the rise in virtual meetings and the need for additional cloud storage. If you’re looking at how this impacts your data center in 2021, this blog is a great place to start! According to Gartner, worldwide data center spending dropped by more than 10% last year, and 60% of new facility construction was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021 the market is looking at an estimated 6% increase in spending as most enterprises have just delayed new construction. Data center spending is expected to grow every year through 2024. But what should you spend your budget on? Our Senior Sales Engineer Tony Cordenis and Director of Business Development Drew Unger share their predictions for 2021 data center trends.

2021 Data Center Trends

Edge Data Centers

Edge data centers are going to continue to grow in popularity. In an earlier blog, we compared edge data centers to other traditional data centers, and why companies choose the edge model. Edge data centers offer attractive solutions over the traditional data center model because they offer decreased latency, increased capacity and improved connectivity. According to research by Data Center Knowledge, "It's telcos and enterprises that are driving most of the growth in edge computing […] Of all servers enterprises will buy in 2024, about 38 percent will be deployed for edge computing purposes.

Colocation Data Centers

On-premise data centers will begin to move off-site as we look to 2021, which we predict will cause a rise in colocation. According to Data Center Frontier, researchers are forecasting,On-premise data centers still represent 61% of IT infrastructure but predicts a rapid transition over the next five years, with that on-premises footprint shrinking slightly while cloud and colocation providers see massive growth.

They go as far as to say that only about 28% of IT infrastructure will remain on-premise by 2025. Because of the sharp rise in technology, we have also seen many companies quickly transition to a colocation model to keep up with emerging technologies whose adoption rate is 2-3 years ahead of its time.

Data Center Automation

Automation is more important than ever. With a growing number of companies adopting work-from-home strategies, automation is no longer an option. Data centers are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and even robotics for facility maintenance and oversight. Data Center Frontier says COVID-19 is mostly responsible for pushing this trend forward and shared that,The pandemic has accelerated the need to make systems less reliant on human intervention. Expect to see these initiatives abound as data center operators prioritize the health of their operations teams and pursue contactless maintenance.”

AI can boost cybersecurity, detect and avoid downtime and optimize servers. If your data center hasn’t adopted AI yet, read our recent blog to get ideas on where to start.

Liquid Cooling

Liquid cooled racks continue to grow in popularity, but their price tag may prevent them from becoming mainstream. Liquid cooled racks reduce cooling requirements and associated cooling costs, making it an attractive and sustainable solution, but we expect a slower adoption rate.

In addition to overall data center trends, Drew and Tony broke down trends we expect from data center hardware.

Sever Cabinet & Hardware Trends

To support modern technologies, servers have increased in size, which means server racks will need to accommodate new static and rolling weight requirements. Companies with fixed floor space will need to carefully architect their infrastructure solutions from a rack level. We foresee many enterprise companies turning to custom rack solutions and drive cost savings from a rack level. These racks will need to accommodate larger servers and present solutions around cable management, cooling, rack and stack solutions, and more. We have begun to see enterprise data centers experimenting with different colored aisle containment and expect to see more in 2021. Just as server racks moved from black to white to improve cooling costs, companies are switching to white aisles, which can help save on cooling costs and provides better illumination. Other trends in hardware include transitions to bright colors to facilitate communication for data center operators. Brightly colored cabinets can mean testing or a new installment. Experimentation with colors other than black is something we expect to see more of this year. Hybrid open compute racks are emerging in the market, featuring a bus bar in the back for constant power consistency without having to use smart PDUs. Facebook data centers started this trend, and it has since sparked interest among other enterprises. We’ve experienced an increased number of inquiries for hybrid OCP racks and expect this trend to continue throughout 2021.

Our final thoughts

2020 brought rapid change and technology adoption, which pushed data centers to reevaluate their 2021 plans, such as embracing automation and quickly utilizing colocation data centers. We look toward the future of data center technology with excitement for what’s to come. Are you responsible for data center infrastructure? If so, we can help. DAMAC manufactures custom server racks, equipment racks, aisle containment and more. Talk with our team today to get a quote!

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