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Crowdsourcing ideas for the data centre of tomorrow

Danny Wong, Director for Energy System Solution and Telecom Monitoring, Emerson Network Power Asia | Jan. 5, 2015
Data centres are likely to exist in even more shapes and forms in 2025 than they do today. What really matters is that telcos adopt the innovations that will transform their businesses into powerhouses for communications and connectivity.

The rise of smartphones and tablets and the impending Internet of Things has led to increasing use of mobile broadband, and in turn, the amount of data that is captured and transmitted by telecommunications providers. But with energy prices and environmental concerns rising as well, telcos are now faced with the unenviable challenge of providing greener data centres that are efficient, available, and scalable.

In Data Centre 2025, a global, industry-wide research initiative that involves thought leaders in the data centre industry, Emerson Network Power has explored potential visions for the data centre of the future. Most experts believe the data centre as we know it will undergo massive changes over the next decade. The year 2025 represents a horizon that is close enough to project how current trends could play out -- the data centres being commissioned today will be roughly halfway in their projected lifecycle by 2025, and yet far enough away that there is still leeway to discuss what the future data centre will look like.

Telecommunications companies were asked to identify the No.1 issue driving change in telecommunications. Performance, which was defined to include latency and reliability, is the number one response globally at 41 percent, although it was rated much higher in Asia Pacific at 47 percent. Bandwidth was second-most popular as the No. 1 issue, with 30 percent of Asia Pacific contributors choosing this response, while voice and data convergence preoccupied a remaining 22% of contributors.

Better performance and bandwidth must be supported by outstanding monitoring and management of data centre resources. Twenty-nine percent of data centre industry experts expect full visibility across all data centre layers and systems to be achieved by 2025, with positive implications on efficiency and sustainability. Seventy-two percent of data centre industry experts expect IT resource utilization rates to be at least 60 percent in 2025, against an estimated 20 percent today.

Data centre infrastructure management (DCIM), which manages power and cooling elements in a data centre, must also evolve. A quarter of data centre industry experts expect data centre management systems to self-optimize by 2025, while 43 percent expect data centres to have self-healing capabilities.

Power and cooling requirements might be expected to grow, but close to two-thirds of data centre industry experts (64 percent) believe that it will actually require less energy in 2025 to produce the same level of data centre computing performance available today.

As for where the power may come from, Data Centre 2025 data centre industry experts named renewable energy, particularly solar energy, as a new energy source. Data centre industry experts from Asia Pacific are more optimistic than the U.S. andEurope on the potential for solar energy, predicting that a quarter of power requirements will come from the sun.


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