The data centre landscape

A survey into future data centre requirements by market researcher IDC and backed by data centre hosting provider Interxion found that the amount of data centre floor space, the number of server racks per data centre and the amount of power required to feed them are all steadily increasing.The UK in particular was especially hungry for data centre resources, with the highest average amount of power for each rack (10.7 kW per rack) and the largest amount of floor space per data centre of all European countries.

As the managing director of Interxion UK, Greg McCulloch, observes, the competition for those resources is intensifying.

Data centre managers are keenly aware of the competition they face from their near neighbours for key resources such as real estate and power, but they might not be so cognisant of the effect that some rather more distant neighbours are having on data economics.

“Because of demand from China and India, the lead times required to secure critical data centre infrastructure such as power generators and steel are growing significantly,” explains McCulloch.

That, and a shortage of power in the South East of England, is severely limiting many UK businesses’ plans for data centre expansion.

“At the moment, you can’t just bring more online as and when you need it,” warns McCulloch. Instead, he explains, data centre power needs to be secured long in advance.

But while some observers believe that London and the South East are saturated with data centres, McCulloch says there is still more that can be done in the area. Indeed, the company does not have any data centres outside the London area.

“There is a huge problem securing power [in London], but it can be done,” he says. “No-one has ever said ‘there is no power left’.”

McCulloch believes that these sourcing challenges should motivate companies to employ data centre co-location services.

A third-party provider can mitigate these escalating costs by buying in bulk and employing a sophisticated sourcing strategy.

But he was nevertheless surprised that the IDC survey found cost reduction to be the principal motivator for using third-party data centre services.

“I would have thought that protecting uptime and resilience would have been the top priority for co-location customers,” he says. “I think that is far and away the most important factor; businesses simply can’t afford to have their systems go down.”

As McCulloch’s comments reveal, while the intensity of competition for resources is reaching boiling point, one thing that is never going to give way is businesses’ reliance on the systems that the data centre houses.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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