6 data center trends to watch
According to Uptime Institute’s annual survey, data-center owners and operators face increasing complexity and operational challenges as they look to improve IT resiliency, build out capacity at the edge, and retain skilled staff in a tight labor market.
Fewer data center outages, higher costs
69% of owners and operators surveyed in 2021 had some sort of outage in the past three years, a fall from 78% in 2020. Uptime notes that the improvement in the number of outages could be traced to operational changes driven by the pandemic.
In terms of seriousness of outages, roughly half of all data center outages cause significant revenue, time, and reputational damage, according to Uptime. Roughly six in 10 major outages in the 2021 survey cost more than $100,000.
Power remains the leading cause of major outages, responsible for 43% of outages in 2021, followed by network issues (14%) cooling failures (14%), and software/IT systems error (14%).
More mission-critical workloads in the cloud
Data-center owners and operators are increasingly moving mission-critical workloads to a public cloud, Uptime finds, although visibility issues persist for some cloud users and would-be users.
When asked if they place mission-critical workloads into public clouds, 33% of respondents said yes (up from 26% in 2019) and 67% said no (down from 74%).
Despite concerns about visibility and operational transparency, 61% of respondents that have their workloads spread across on-premises, cloud and colocation sites believe that distributing their workloads across these venues has increased their resiliency. Just 9% think their organization has become less resilient using these architectures. 30% said they don’t know.
Public-cloud repatriation not happening for most enterprises
When asked if they had repatriated any workloads or data from a public cloud to a private cloud or private on-prem/colocation environment, nearly 70% said no. Among the 32% of respondents who said yes, the most common primary reason for repatriation was cost, followed by regulatory compliance. Other reasons included performance issues and perceived concerns over security. Actual security breaches were responsible for just 1% of repatriated workloads, according to Uptime.
Most respondents expect to see demand for edge computing increase in 2021: 35% of respondents said they expect edge-computing demand to somewhat increase, and another 26% expect demand to significantly increase.
Looking ahead, the largest percentage of respondents (40%) expect to use mostly their own private edge data-center facilities for the coming buildup, followed by 18% who expect to use a mix of private and colocation.
Staffing problems persist
Among respondents, 47% report difficulty finding qualified candidates for open jobs, and 32% say their employees are being hired away, often by competitors.
In the big picture, Uptime projects that staff requirements will grow globally from about 2 million full-time employee equivalents in 2019 to nearly 2.3 million in 2025.
Data-center environmental practices lag
The notion of sustainability is growing in importance in the data-center sector, but most organizations don’t closely track their environmental footprint, Uptime finds.
Power consumption is the top sustainability metric tracked, cited by 82% of respondents. Many data centers consume large volumes of water, Uptime says, but only about half of owners and operators track water use. Even fewer respondents said they track server utilization (40%), IT or data-center carbon emissions (33%), and e-waste or equipment lifecycle (25%).