In a quarter of a century, data centres have transformed from a niche industry to one of the most important parts in people’s daily lives. Although many do not realise it, the pictures they take, the content of their favourite entertainment services and even online shops are stored in modern data centres that occupy areas the size of sports arenas. Everything that happens on the internet is connected to data centres. Consequently, global challenges and new opportunities directly affect this industry.
It is important to understand how disruptions in the production of digital infrastructure, cyber security issues, and the entry of artificial intelligence into business and other current events affect the development of data centres.
Data storage facilities become more expensive
Undoubtedly, the industry is adversely affected by supply problems of modern technologies that started during the pandemic. Its production volumes have still not returned to previous levels. Therefore, many manufacturing industries are competing over semiconductors, chips, cables and other components. The lack of spare parts and new equipment is also affecting data centres.
In addition, while equipment and car manufacturers are already used to the situation, data centre builders are truly facing the problem now, as building a data centre takes several years. It means that equipping the new centres started very recently. And the prices are much higher now than they were before the pandemic. As a result, data centre expansion projects are more expensive and the size of data storage facilities can no longer be expanded as quickly as before.
Avoid wasting gigabytes
This is not good news for businesses and end consumers, as competition for space in data centres will intensify and every terabyte will have to be used more rationally. It will be especially interesting to watch what the world’s biggest consumers of server power will do. These companies traditionally reserve space in data centre servers three to five years in advance. If they continue this practice to the usual extent, it will create a problem for smaller consumers. Most data centre and cloud service providers have already increased their prices, and it is expected that they will increase further in the second half of the year to cover the costs of using additional storage facilities in data centres.
This will also place some responsibility on the end users. Until now, many users have freely uploaded their images, videos and other content to cloud storage or video platforms without thinking about the number of gigabytes used, but they will have to change this habit in the near future. Perhaps service owners will be forced to set stricter limits or a higher price per gigabyte, and older content that has not been used for a long time may be deleted.
Latvian companies are currently building the third DEAC data centre in Riga to tackle this issue, and it will be put into operation as early as 2025. The new data centre DC3 will have up to 1,000 racks with a total capacity of 10MW and will be certified according to the requirements of the Tier III standard. This certificate sets safety standards regarding the design, construction and maintenance of data centres. Although it has been planned to complete the construction works by the end of 2024, potential customers can already reserve a place in the new data centre.
Self-production of electrical power
The new trend of generating electricity very close to a data centre could become a useful method for reducing costs in the long term. Data centres consume a lot of electrical power, because the building not only contains thousands of servers that run continuously, but also cooling equipment for maintaining a favourable working climate for the machines. Recent fluctuations in electricity prices have encouraged data centres to build its own power plants.
The new DC3 will use electrical power produced only from renewable resources. Even the back-up electricity generators use a green solution like fuels produced from 100% renewable resources. As the chemical formula of the substance is identical to fossil diesel fuel.
AI will help
Another solution to keeping control over the costs and saving space could be the promising artificial intelligence that is gradually entering the data centre industry. The generative AI or equipment capable of creating original content will make it possible to personalise services and rationally use available space. AI algorithms will customise language, recommend the most appropriate features for customers, perform detailed programming, create design and content, and provide customer service. At the same time, AI will make sure that the processes take place as efficiently as possible and do not unnecessarily waste space on the servers. All of this will contribute to the reduction of costs that are currently being passed on to relevant service providers. It must be noted here that only recently AI has started showing its ability to be a useful help in business, therefore useful AI powered solutions for automation may become common in two to five years.
However, there is an area where radical changes are not expected, and that is cyber security. The activation of cyber criminals experienced in the last year and a half makes it necessary for data centre employees to be maximally vigilant and adhere to the highest cyber security standards. It means that if the data centre has received an appropriate certification, then customers can be certain that their data will be taken care of. They will be protected from attacks, as well as backups will be available even if one of the servers stops working.