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The data center of the future

What it will look like and how it will function

October 19, 2020

The data center of the future
We don’t have a crystal ball, but one thing’s for sure: With the amounts of data continuing to increase in the business world—and data becoming increasingly important in strategic decision-making—data centers aren’t going away any time soon. They’ll just continue to evolve.
The evolution is being driven by demand and dissatisfaction. In a Forbes study, only 11 of the C-suite executives surveyed said their data centers are capable of handling the higher data volumes they foresee in the near future.
Given the need for change, here are some trends you can expect to see moving forward.
The rise of edge data centers
With the steady increase in IoT devices and mobile computing putting a strain on data center networking bandwidth, edge computing is emerging as an alternative to cloud computing—putting data closer to where it originates. Edge data centers, smaller modular data centers (typically no bigger than a shipping container) are being deployed in a broad range of industries—from healthcare to transportation—to provide hyper-local storage and processing capacity.
Greater energy efficiency   
Currently data centers account for 3% of global electricity consumption, and that percentage will continue to grow unless data centers take steps to improve energy efficiency. Some companies are already working on this. Google, for example, has implemented an AI-driven system to control heating and cooling functions in their data centers, resulting in energy savings of about 30%. Microsoft has experimented with oceanic data centers that operate under water or on barges atop the ocean surface, using natural cooling from water, wind or solar energy.
Self-healing and self-correcting data centers 
In the Forbes survey cited above, 32% of the executives said more than half of their data centers will be self-healing by 2025. The installation of smart infrastructure—computing devices that allow for real-time maintenance, configuration and remediation—will reduce the workload of IT staff and enable data centers to function remotely.

New forms of data storage
In addition to SSDs, HDDs, CDs and magnetic tapes, several new data storage technologies are proving to deliver greater storage capacity per unit.

Take heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), for example. Driven by high-precision laser or microwave technology, HAMR allows for more accurate and stable data writing, which increases the storage capacity of HDDs and other devices by as much as 30 to 40%.

Another data storage technology, liquid-state storage, is also showing promise. Data is stored in a liquid known as vanadium dioxide, a single tablespoon of which has the potential to store nearly 1 TB of data.

Change is inevitable
As energy consumption, storage capacity and the proliferation of IoT and mobile computing continue to put new demands on data centers, they’ll have no choice but to evolve. To learn what you can do today to prepare your customers for the future, contact our data center experts, Samuel Alt at samuel.alt@ingrammicro.com or Nick Vermiglio at nick.vermiglio@ingrammicro.com.