An increasing number of data centre operators in the APAC region will be migrating to the cloud or relying more heavily on managed services by 2025, as a shortage of skilled workers impacts the sector’s ability to build new on-premises capacity to meet post-pandemic demand.
Research carried out by ABB in partnership with Data Centre Dynamics (DCD), reveals that the current 50/50 split between data centre equipment housed on-premises versus co-location or cloud-based solutions is set for a shake up over the next four years, with more than two thirds of senior industry experts (69.1%) indicating that this will shift to just 25% on-prem and 75% in colo or cloud in the near future.
The reason for this shift in thinking may lie in the industry’s struggle to build new capacity. More than 40% of people asked by ABB said that data centre construction in APAC hadn’t been able to keep up with demand over the past 12 months, as the perfect storm of an unpredicted surge in demand and a reliance on traditional construction practices held progress back.
Three out of four respondents (76%) agreed that business transformation in APAC needed hyperscale to progress, but the research revealed that these plans for growth are being hampered by a number of issues which have been created, or made worse, by the pandemic.
These include supply chain resilience (82.2%), health and safety precautions (77.3%) and access to specialist sub-contractors and trades (74.2%) as the biggest areas of concern for the sector. The availability of specialist skills also tops the list of factors which will have the greatest effect on data centre construction costs over the next three years, with 44.6 per cent of respondents mentioning it as a key issue.
The skills shortage issue in the Asia Pacific region mirrors trends in Europe, where 42% of data centre operators believe there’s not enough skilled labour to deliver increased capacity requirements across the continent. Over 80% of European companies say they have been affected by labour gaps and more than seven out of ten believe the pandemic has made the industry’s skills shortages worse.
Kent Chow, ABB’s Data Centre Segment Leader for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa Region says: “Our research shows that the data centre industry in the APAC region is trying to expand and respond to growing data demand but being held back by a shortage of suitably skilled people. This is an issue the industry has been facing for many years and it can have big consequences for operators, from extra costs to delays in project delivery times.
“Attracting talent to the industry, providing training and upskilling all takes time so one way operators can help themselves in the short to medium term is to utilize smart solutions for the installation and maintenance of power equipment. This can take the pressure off existing staff and speed up installation and commissioning times to get new data centres open faster.”
The continued high demand for data centres combined with the lack of specialist sub-contractors and trades is driving many data centre operators to increase their offsite construction. To support data centre operators ABB has developed a number of solutions that limit site work – both commissioning and construction – which can significantly improve speed to deployment.
These include plug and play prefabricated or packaged solutions that can reduce deployment time by up to 50% as they are quicker and easier to place and commission onsite. eHouses for example are prefabricated and pretested prior to being transported to site. As these solutions are fully integrated and debugged prior to shipment, fewer workers are required on-site and installation and commissioning time is reduced significantly.
ABB can also support on-site service needs. With service centres in more than 52 countries and over 2,600 certified service experts worldwide, ABB can support data centre operators with installation and commissioning, maintenance agreements, and repairs. In addition to this on-site support, ABB is also capable of providing remote assistance through the power of augmented reality with RAISE. RAISE connects a field operator directly with an ABB extert reducing time to repair and maintain critical data centre equipment.