Five years ago, Vertiv led a global, industry-wide examination of the data centre of the future. Data Center 2025: Exploring the Possibilities, stretched the imaginations of more than 800 industry professionals and introduced a collaborative vision for the next-generation data centre. On July 19 Vertiv released a mid-point update – Data Center 2025: Closer to the Edge – and it reveals fundamental shifts in the industry that barely registered in the forecasts from five short years ago.
The migration to the edge is changing the way today's industry leaders think about the data centre. They are grappling with a broad data centre ecosystem comprised of many types of facilities and relying increasingly on the edge of the network. Of participants who have edge sites today or expect to have edge sites in 2025, more than half (53%) expect the number of edge sites they support to grow by at least 100% with 20% expecting a 400% or more increase. Collectively, survey participants expect their total number of edge computing sites will grow 226% between now and 2025.
During the original 2014 research, the edge was acknowledged as a growing trend but merited just four mentions in the 19-page report. The industry's attention at that point was focused firmly on hybrid architectures leveraging enterprise, cloud and colocation resources. Even in an industry that routinely moves and changes at light speed, the growth of the edge and the dramatic impact, it will have on the data centre is staggering.
"In just five short years, we have seen the emergence of an entirely new segment of the ecosystem, driven by the need to locate computing closer to the user," said Rob Johnson, Vertiv CEO. "This new distributed network is reliant on a mission-critical edge that has fundamentally changed the way we think about the data centre."
"The results of the survey are reflective of what we are seeing and hearing from our customers on the ground here in Asia. We are seeing an intelligence continuum from the cloud to the edge – meaning – seamless integration of intelligent devices complementing growing to compute power. This requires a significant investment in edge infrastructure that's fully flexible and resilient to be able to deliver real-time compute and meet customers' expectations," said Anand Sanghi, president of Asia and India at Vertiv.
More than 800 data centre professionals participated in the survey. Among the other notable results:
- Participants aren't as bullish on the prospects for solar and wind power in the data centre as they were in 2014. Then, they projected about 34% of data centre power would come from those sources by 2025. Now, the expectation is 21% – still optimistic, but mindful of the ambitious timeline.
- Globally, 16% of participants expect to be retired by 2025, exacerbating an already problematic talent shortage. In the U.S., that number is an alarming 33%.