If data is the fuel powering the global economy, then data centres are the backbone on which it sits. Despite economic slowdowns, the upward trend in cloud infrastructure and mobile connectivity has continued. With latency expectations increasing, the distance that data travels has also never been more critical. Looking ahead to 2023, Pulsant, has identified its six predictions for the rapidly changing world of infrastructure.
Ecosystems will power UK business to the edge
As the year progresses, organisations engaged in major projects such as smart cities or industrial IoT implementations will seek out ecosystems over a single-vendor approach. Their dependence on data means these projects will require edge computing for advances such as intelligent, interactive transport system, remote, AI powered live video analysis, or highly automated, complex manufacturing.
In each case, organisations will want access to more than just a data centre. They will want edge expertise and an ecosystem of companies with specialist understanding of use cases and specific types of connectivity and backhaul. And they will want to avoid being totally reliant on a single vendor. More than one view and multiple options are necessary so organisations can maximise performance and resilience while keeping a lid on cost. Mobile edge computing ecosystems, for example, will facilitate faster and more flexible deployment of location-based services, along with content delivery applications.
Connectivity will be about more than a mast
2023 will be the year when connectivity comes more sharply into focus. In the EY survey of UK businesses, 43% admit they struggle to understand how 5G connectivity relates to emerging technologies such as edge computing. This is worse than the global average of 39%. Yet 5G will continue to grow in the UK.
Applications focused on real-time and aggregated data analytics need connectivity that has either low jitter, loss and lag or has dedicated high bandwidth. The telcos have been first movers in this market with 5G, but carrier fibre delivers waves that are more dependable.
MECs (multi-access edge computing environments) provide IT services, compute and cloud access but this will soon give way to sliced radio networks or shared services at the metropolitan level. There are already live use cases in the transport and energy sectors, but large-scale adoption will follow once edge infrastructure platforms have fully developed their low latency connectivity, high-speed backhaul to the public cloud and local computing capabilities.
Businesses looking to implement these technologies will want to benefit from direct connectivity to the world’s top cloud-providers at the same time as processing data locally to achieve the right level of latency and cost-optimisation. Organisations will seek simplicity in cloud connectivity partnerships, to avoid the complexity of using different exchanges and third party networks.
Regional data centres will hog more of the limelight
Regional data centres will continue their significant growth. ResearchAndMarkets this year said regional data centres outside the M25 and Slough are adding 20,000m2 annually, with overall data centre revenue growth will be 36% up to 2025.
The drivers behind these figures include the global explosion of SaaS applications and the demand for edge infrastructure. Increasing numbers of regional businesses want low latency, high-bandwidth connectivity so they can implement AI technologies and reap the benefit of SaaS applications. SaaS companies want to deliver those applications from edge data centres.
For most of the UK, this is only possible from data centres strategically sited in the regions. A route-diverse network of edge data centres connected by high-speed fibre with backhaul to all the hyperscaler hubs will become increasingly essential.
The development of UK-wide edge computing platforms will continue to shift the way businesses operate and will improve the quality of life for millions of people living outside the main metropolitan areas. It’s already starting to transform content delivery, virtual reality, real-time advertising, and even remote healthcare.
Streaming will continue to outrun smart cars for now
Smart vehicles are an exciting and massive use case for edge computing, but 2023 is unlikely to be their break-out year. For the foreseeable future, the explosion of video streaming services will outrun smart vehicles. Autonomous vehicles are expected to account for only about 12% of registrations by 2030.
The video streaming market, by contrast, could grow by more than 20% between now and 2030, thanks to the ability of edge computing infrastructure to support data-intensive content delivery and high levels of personalisation through AI.
But as the development of smart cars continues, edge computing will be at the centre of collaborations between the designers and implementers of the many technologies and systems required. Edge data centres will process and filter the masses of data smart cars and their infrastructure generate and depend on.
UK business gets the tools to make hybrid cloud kick
Hybrid cloud is going to grow even faster in 2023. The global hybrid cloud market was valued at $85 billion in 2021 and Statista forecasts it to grow to $262 billion in 2027. Hybrid architectures can be notoriously complex and costly to operate, but the advent of next-generation cloud management platforms is removing many of these drawbacks.
Organisations choosing a hybrid cloud architecture combine the best of the public or private clouds and on-premises data centres. They can benefit from greater cost-control, faster application-deployment, and the ability to manage all their workloads centrally while extending advanced orchestration capabilities all the way to the edge. With the new toolsets they can manage all their environments from a single interface and gain a full understanding of performance. Instead of watching costs rack up with no gain in performance, this is a year when more organisations will switch between environments according to their own requirements – not the cloud provider’s.
Massive data processing needs to de-couple from climate and ecological harms
The COP27 climate change conference in Egypt heard that data science will play a major role in helping reduce carbon emissions yet the data centres that process all that information will remain under heavy pressure to reduce energy consumption and move to renewables.
Having authentic green credentials is likely to make a significant difference for data centre networks as 2023 unfolds. Potential customers will be looking for adoption of valid emissions-reductions frameworks such as the Science Based Targets initiatives’ Net Zero Standard. This is the kind of robust and credible approach that enterprises will want to see so they are not accused of ignoring the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Data centre operators will be under intense scrutiny, needing to demonstrate they are using valid reporting methodologies that cover everything from facilities to vehicles and the energy they purchase. Data centres demonstrating high levels of renewable energy will clearly be at a major advantage, yet there may well be a push for more information about upstream and downstream climate effects. Data centre operators will need to continue to develop their understanding of these effects to ensure responsible and informed choices.