The events of 2020 saw the demand for data centres skyrocket due to the pandemic with more people working from home and leading a more virtual way of life. As such, in this blog we have picked the six top trends that we think data centres will be utilising in 2021.

1. New working models drive more demand

Now the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has begun there is growing hope for a return to normality at long last. However, this will be a new normal with many businesses choosing to adopt the hybrid workplace model post-pandemic. Gartner predicts data centre spending to hit $200bn in 2021, a 6% increase from 2020.

2. A central role for hyperscale facilities

Edge computing will see the introduction of smaller regional DCs and hyperscale facilities will also play an important role in supporting highly scalable networks to support hyperscale cloud providers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Hyperscale will also support more social media and digital streaming services, cloud gaming and AI/machine learning services.

3. Shifting closer to the Edge

A requirement towards zero-latency connectivity will be driven by the continued rollout of 5G networks and the increase in IoT technologies. This will see latency-sensitive workloads pushed out to the network edge via smaller but highly connected regional data centres closer to end users. These technologies are set to drive a huge growth in the edge data centre sector with PwC expecting the global market to almost triple to $13.5 billion in 2024 from $4 billion in 2017.

4. More focus on renewable energy

Many DCs are now powered using only renewable energy supply contracts as more and more are striving to work with the government and industry bodies to reduce their environmental impact. The EU Commission’s digital strategy states DCs, “can and should become climate neutral by 2030”. Expect to see more DC operators switching to 100% renewable energy as environment consciousness rises and the demand for rack space increases.

5. The new challenges of the ‘next normal

With demand predicted to rise in 2021, some DC operators may face a new set of challenges such as: supplying enough rack space to satisfy demand; cooling DCs efficiently as increased server activity generates more heat; and sourcing people with the right skills to help their teams manage their growing customer bases.

6. A central role for AI

Along with machine learning, AI will have a more established role in helping to solve many of challenges DC operators will face over the coming year and beyond. AI and machine learning will drive intelligent decision-making and provide autonomy in DC operations, driving greener efficiencies, improving cyber security and distributing workloads more efficiently.