From hedges to multi-stories to the early days of 5G, here are the top ten trends for the data center industry this year.

Data center
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New Year’s resolution – Data center designs build muscle and lose fat

We all know that break room cupcakes and stress eating can torpedo this common New Year’s resolution. But that’s for people… not data centers. Since the early days of colocation, data center designs were mainly about “the plus.” The question was how much more infrastructure you built into your data center so that you could be fault tolerant, concurrently maintainable, or both. New data center designs are more about “the N” – how much infrastructure you need to deliver the service. Application and system designs are more resilient than ever before. So you can lower the cost of your data center without reducing application availability by building up “the N muscle” and losing “the plus fat.”

“Hedge” data centers

Tech people love to name new IT architectures – anyone remember “fog computing?” How about a new data center architecture that combines Hyperscale + Edge to create “hedge” data centers? Clearly two of the biggest trends in 2018 were the dominance of massive, hyperscale cloud data centers and the emergence of new edge computing deployments. In 2019, look for colocation products that attempt to seamlessly integrate hyperscale and edge data centers to support new applications for AI, Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, big data, etc.

Big man on campus

It’s a quiet, but undeniable trend for 2019 – when given the choice between a stand-alone data center and a multi-facility data center campus, customers increasingly prefer the campus, especially in top markets. They like the combination of perimeter and facility security. They prefer the option to grow within multiple, fiber-connected buildings. They see the supplier’s commitment to developing a large campus as reducing their business risk.

Grow up not out

Customers in the US are embracing what the rest of the world has known for years – multi-story data centers are fine. They extend the economies of scale by getting more value out of a piece of property, which in top markets is getting increasingly more expensive.

Go global or go home

For the top data center users, working with global data center suppliers is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a “must have.” To become a global supplier, having locations around the world is just table stakes. To be a leading global data center company you also need global design standards, global operating procedures, and a global business model that includes contracts, pricing, and workload balancing.

It’s time to start a pilot 5G project

5G is the next generation of wireless networking, and it’s going to impact your data center. I saw a credible presentation a few weeks ago that said 5G can support 100 times more connected devices and 1,000 times more volume, with 10 times lower latency and 10 times improvement in battery life for wireless devices. Even if 5G is not as great as the hype, it’s going to be good. In 2019, find a latency sensitive application (IoT, video, automation, etc.), and start a pilot 5G project. Plan for early adoption of 5G in 2020.

Supply chain and cost of capital become strategic

The data center industry is building bigger and faster than ever before. To be successful in this new environment, data center providers need a strong supply chain and low cost of capital. For the critical infrastructure supply chain, we need just-in-time inventory, modular builds, the ability to shift component delivery between multiple construction sites, and volume pricing. For capital, we are spending billions of dollars building new data centers. We can sell at a lower price if we are financing at lower rates.

Aquaman gets cable

2018 saw a rush of new submarine cable landings mostly funded by four of the big hyperscale cloud companies – Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. These cables are the new “Internet bridges” interconnecting the world and carrying network traffic better and faster than ever before.

In 2019, look for new applications and services that leverage these cables and the companies behind them.