The data centre industry is on track for a boom
During the pandemic, the data centre industry has gone from a healthy subset of the ICT sector to an essential utility.
In 2021, that trend shows no sign of slowing down. New data from ABB Power Conversion, DCP, and Synergy Research Group all points towards a boom year for the sector.
Overall, suggests that the global data centre market will grow by 14% year-on-year in 2021, with 96% of the data centre professionals surveyed saying they saw increased demand on their facilities last year.
“The impact of COVID-19 fundamentally accelerated the concept of ‘mission critical’. Overnight, businesses became even more reliant on the cloud to enable operations, processes and remote collaboration,” says ABB Power Conversion president Jeff Schnitzer.
With its high level of digitalisation and maturity, Europe saw demand for data skyrocket during the past year. A predicts that European data centre operators will see revenues increase by a staggering 46% in the coming year, with public cloud provider revenues expected to jump by 56%. In an age when public cloud expansion is actually drawing down on data demand in other sectors, both elements of the industry seem to be finding enough demand to justify continued growth.
DCP’s 2021 Data Centre European Report points to a boom in new facility build-outs, with over 70 projects underway in 12 countries totalling 851,000 square metres of floor space. A large portion of this investment is expected to come from US operators, with CyrusOne, QTS, ServerChoice, Iron Mountain and Vantage Data Centres (which is developing campus facilities in Berlin, Frankfurt, Milan, Warsaw and Zurich) all pouring cash into significant projects across the region.
Microsoft, Google and Amazon dominate the Hyperscale Market
2021, as we’ve mentioned before at Data Centre Magazine, is going to be . New data released this week by Synergy Research found that, by the end of 2020, there were almost 600 hyperscale data centres operating around the world, a figure that’s more than doubled since 2015.
Out of the 597 hyperscalers currently up and running around the world, Amazon, Google and Microsoft accounted for more than half of them. Amazon and Google in particular spun up the most new data centres last year, with their projects accounting for half of all new hyperscale facilities in 2020.
2021 is also the year when Microsoft Azure is predicted to overtake Office as the company’s chief revenue stream.
“There were 111 new hyperscale data centres opened in the last eight quarters, with 52 of those coming onstream in 2020 despite COVID-19 causing a few logistical issues,” said John Dinsdale, a Chief Analyst at Synergy Research Group.
“That is testament to the ongoing robust growth in the digital services that are driving those investments – particularly cloud computing, SaaS, e-commerce, gaming and video services. We did actually see a handful of older hyperscale data centres shut down in 2020, but those numbers pale besides the number of newly opened or planned sites. In addition to almost 600 operational data centres, we have visibility of a further 219 that are at various stages of planning or building, which is good news indeed for data centre hardware vendors and wholesale data centre operators.”
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.