The digital infrastructure sector is poised for continued robust growth in 2024 and beyond, propelled by rapid technological advancements. However, this surge brings forth new challenges for operators, as outlined in the latest report by Uptime Institute, titled “Five Data Center Predictions for 2024“
One of the foremost challenges facing data center operators is sustainability estimation. New reporting laws and increasingly stringent requirements in various countries will mandate stricter carbon reporting. Organizations will be compelled to prove the realism and evidence-based nature of their sustainability goals. This shift is anticipated to be expensive for many operators as they navigate the evolving landscape of environmental responsibility.
Impact of AI
The hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) has led to expectations of a significant increase in demand for data centers, accompanied by a surge in power and cooling needs. However, the report suggests that the impact on most operators will be indirect. While the overall influence on data centers may be profound in the long term, only a few operators will be delivering the most demanding AI services. For the majority, the immediate challenge lies in optimizing facilities to accommodate a broader mix of densities and resiliency tiers.
Smart Data Center Software
Operators have been slow to harness the potential of software, connectivity, and sensor technologies for optimizing and automating critical infrastructure operations. However, the tide is turning, with more operators adopting new tools and intelligent data usage, including machine learning. Despite the evolving market, risks persist from complexities, poor implementation, and the selection of inadequate tools. The industry is on the cusp of a significant shift towards smarter data center software.
Challenges of Direct Liquid Cooling
Expectations are high for direct liquid cooling to address efficiency and sustainability challenges. However, the report warns that these benefits will remain elusive for many organizations. A gradual rollout of the technology, mixed environments, constrained optimization, and the necessity for existing systems to run in parallel will limit its contribution to overall infrastructure efficiency.
Emergence of Hyperscale Campuses
A transformative trend on the horizon is the development of hyperscale colocation campuses connected by wide-bandwidth fiber. This evolution is expected to alleviate pressure on traditional data center hotspots, potentially leading to lower colocation prices in the long term. The emergence of hyperscale campuses, contingent on factors such as fiber and power availability, is poised to reshape the data center landscape, providing a scalable solution to meet the escalating demand for compute and storage.
In conclusion, the Uptime Institute’s report provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for data center operators in 2024. As the industry navigates sustainability mandates, AI demands, software evolution, cooling technologies, and the rise of hyperscale campuses, strategic adaptation will be key for sustained success.