Data Center and Cloud User Trends: 4 Things Happening Now

Renewable Solar Energy
Power plant using renewable solar energy with sun

Conversations with a number of data center professionals in early 2016 regarding what their customers and prospects have increasing interest in pinpoint some potential trends. It is always illuminating to see where smart end-user interest is headed.

Stack that Rack!  Driving High Density by Growing Vertically:  Large data center users have largely not shown the desire for high-density deployments, despite years of predictions of increasing density being a significant trend.  Issues with cooling and design are a couple of the reasons why, and research has shown that power density isn’t terribly scalable.   But high density may be making a comeback among large colocation customers to help them reduce the amount of space required for rental.

Growing higher reduces the need to expand a square footage commitment. While wholesale data center providers are mentioning this, it is a trend that may also be happening in owner-operated corporate data centers as space gets tight.

Direct Access to Cloud Providers and Carriers: No surprise that a hybrid solution is best served with ready access to the cloud.  A direct connection to AWS, Azure, and other major clouds is a significant benefit for a data center with an owner or tenant looking to engage in a hybrid solution.  The ability to connect directly with leading cloud providers and major carriers is a strong desire for those looking for low latency, or to just keep their options open for future service flexibility and adjustment.   While not a new desire, these direct connections are becoming a must have for many.

Customers Want AWS Capabilities….or What They Interpret Those Capabilities to Be: There’s a desire for the ability to spin up a nearly unlimited amount of servers, which Amazon Web Services (AWS) allows customers to do, and also to scale up and down with significant financial flexibility, which many believe AWS allows customers to do.  For the large majority of customers, the scalability and flexibility of AWS is not as evident in practice as it is in theory, but that hasn’t stopped customers from asking providers for options and protection against business changes.  These desires are creating a challenge for providers and a need to educate prospects and customers on the true nature of options in the marketplace, some which are not as welcoming to in-contract changes other than those expecting constant growth.

Delaying the Cloud for Financial Reasons:  While significant growth is certainly occurring, cloud adoption is not as universal as many expected, and it is worth remembering that other than with startups, infrastructure decisions do not take place in  a vacuum.  We’re all familiar with the security and control concerns held by companies who have the resources to manage their own infrastructure. But there are financial aspects that concern enterprises as well.  If you’re two or three years into a multi-year depreciation schedule for your gear, there is no upside to cloud adoption until they’ve fully capitalized the equipment expense.   It doesn’t make much sense for these companies to make a cloud decision until it is time for a technology refresh.

Look for expanded content on these and other developing issues here at Data Center Spotlight.