4 megatrends impacting the data centre in 2016

Organisations should turn socioeconomic and environmental challenges to their advantage, writes Gartner research director Henrique Cecci

 4 megatrends impacting the data centre in 2016

‘CIOs are putting digital platforms in place to respond to future market and consumer demands’

 

For more than 30 years we have looked at how the top trends in IT will impact the data centre. Recently, Gartner has covered emerging trends including artificial intelligence (AI), algorithmic business and the Internet of Things.

While the transformational potential of these IT trends is tempting to technology leaders, slower-moving – yet monumental – forces are also at play.

Global megatrends that are reshaping economies and societies will also have a profound impact on data centres. Gartner predicts that by 2021 more than 90% of large data centres will revise their strategies due to major global socioeconomic and environmental trends.

>See also: 5 key considerations for successful data centre migration

CIOs and IT leaders must commit time and financial resources to devise a modern data centre strategy that harnesses these trends and supports future growth. Here are the top four.

1. Digitalisation

We’ve conducted numerous surveys and published hundreds of research notes about digitalisation over the past few years. The 2016 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey shows that we are now deep in the era of digitalisation. CIOs are putting digital platforms in place to respond to future market and consumer demands.

This trend is accelerating, with the average CIO expecting revenue from digital platforms to grow from 16% to 37% cent in the next five years.

Developing a digital platform capable of responding to future digital demand as part of a solid data centre strategy is paramount. CIOs should consider multiple data centre options, such as on-premise, cloud, colocation, hosting and edge computing, to deliver compute resources to the business in the best way possible.

Moreover, CIOs should focus on the business need for each service or application running workloads, and even develop bimodal IT Mode 2 capabilities.

2. Demographic and social change

Data from the United Nations and many other governmental organisations provides strong evidence that the world is facing unprecedented demographic and social change. This is affecting how the world’s population is developing as well as the demand on resources.

Most developed countries are facing declining fertility rates. The current European Union average is just 1.59 – far removed from post-Second World War highs. According to the US National Bureau of Economic Research, lower rates of fertility are associated with diminished economic growth. This combined with ageing populations and new skill requirements points to a looming talent crisis.

Eventually, the era of digital business will evolve to one of autonomous business. In the meantime, CIOs need to develop the talent to build a strong digital core, based on a modern data centre strategy, while also implementing a long-term plan to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for an autonomous and AI-driven world.

3. Urbanisation

Megacities are on the rise. While the global population continues to increase slowly, the global urban population is growing much faster. By 2030, there will be 41 megacities, each with a population of over 10 million, compared with just three megacities in the 1970s. These dense urban centres will exert a ‘gravitational pull’, attracting data centres to move closer.

Nevertheless, this trend will not influence all data centres in the same way. Prime locations typically command higher costs, so while proximity to a megacity may seem attractive, it’s not always the best option for every data centre.

Applications with specific requirements may use micro, edge or small data centres located inside megacities.

In countries where governments do not control energy prices, we find data centres located in more remote regions, where operational costs are lower.
We expect this trend to continue.

>See also: How the evolution of data centres is changing the role of the CIO

4. Climate change and resource scarcity

Climate change, combined with population growth and economic development, will continue to place increased stress on essential natural resources, including water, food, raw materials and energy.

As the global demand for computational resources continues to grow rapidly, data centres will demand more energy and water to keep temperature and humidity at the necessary levels.

Climate and landscape change is also changing risk profiles. This includes not only flooding, fire and extreme weather conditions, but also the risk of water and energy shortages.

Climate change is also likely to increase operational costs and lead to new regulatory requirements. CIOs should consider climate risks from the outset in order to foster an integrated and strategic approach to green IT and sustainability.

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