Data Center trends 2020 According to Vertiv Experts

Rob Johnson
“A new balance is emerging in the data center world as the industry faces capacity challenges and advanced applications that require significant changes in all types of data centers,” said Rob Johnson, CEO of Vertiv.

In 2020, organizations will increasingly abandon the ‘enterprise or cloud’ debate dominated C-level conversations in recent years. Instead, it is increasingly about hybrid architectures that include public and private cloud models and edge assets around a reconfigured core network, says Vertiv – a global provider of IT infrastructure and continuity solutions.

The new hybrid architectures would enable organizations to stay in control of sensitive data while meeting the growing demand for more capacity and better computing capabilities closer to the customer. As connectivity and availability become cohesive concepts in this new data ecosystem, according to Vertiv experts, seamless communication from core to cloud to edge becomes increasingly important.

This evolving approach to managing data and computing resources is one of five data center trends for 2020 identified by experts from Vertiv.

1. Hybrid architectures go mainstream – While cloud computing remains an important part of most organizations’ IT strategy, we would see a subtle change in strategy: organizations want to align their IT-mix and spend with the needs of their applications. As we see more and more of these hybrid architectures, it’s also becoming increasingly clear that the enterprise data center is alive and kicking – even as its role changes.

2.Implementation speed as the new arms race – As the capabilities of technologies and systems flatten, data center and IT managers are increasingly turning to other equipment selection criteria. Cost is always an important factor, but the choice increasingly depends on how quickly assets can be implemented. When all other aspects are close together, any advantage in implementation speed can be a decisive factor. This is especially true now that in modern distributed network computing is migrating to the edge and delays in delivery have a negative impact on service – and thus on revenue.

3.The average rack density remains static, but… Although the average rack density is likely to grow marginally at best, the increase in advanced applications and workloads related to artificial intelligence (AI) – such as machine learning and deep learning – will make powerful computing necessary and more common. Vertiv experts see the first activities in this field in 2020 in defense, advanced analytics and manufacturing. This will lay the foundation for wider adoption in 2021 and beyond. So far, these racks make up a small percentage of the total number of racks. However, they can pose unusual challenges in terms of power and cooling, and these need to be addressed. The increasing interest in direct liquid cooling is a response to the demand for powerful computing.

4.Batteries pay it forward – In 2016, Vertiv experts predicted that lithium-ion batteries would find their way to the data center. And that proved to be true, as these types of batteries account for a significant portion of today’s UPS battery market. That share is even growing and expanding to edge sites, where the smaller footprint and lower maintenance requirements are a natural match. The next step is to take advantage of the flexibility of lithium-ion and other emerging battery alternatives, such as thin plate pure lead (TPPL), to reduce costs. As we move into 2020, more and more organizations are going to sell back the energy stored in these batteries to the utility company to contribute to grid stabilization and reducing peaks. Count on this becoming an important part of larger-scale discussions about sustainability in the data center industry.

5.Global cross-pollination – The United States – particularly Silicon Valley – is the epicenter of the digital omniverse and this generation of data center developments, but innovation is happening everywhere. In China, a parallel digital ecosystem is emerging with remarkable differences, says Vertiv. Data centers in Europe and other markets in Asia and Oceania, such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, are moving away from traditional strategies based on specific regional issues related to data privacy, control and sustainability. GDPR compliance, for example, presents organizations around the world with difficult data management decisions. These issues, together with a strong focus on climate change, result in new ways of thinking about hybrid architecture and the value of on-premise computing and data storage. In China, some data centers are already running 240V DC power on manufacturer-adapted servers to improve efficiency and reduce costs. According to Vertiv, it is not inconceivable that other parts of the world will adopt the model already being embraced in China.

“A new equilibrium is emerging in the data center space as the industry wrestles with capacity challenges and advanced applications that are forcing significant changes to data centers of all shapes and sizes,” said Vertiv CEO Rob Johnson. “At the same time, speed of deployment is increasingly becoming a tipping point in technology decisions and will likely shape investment and innovation in the space as we head into 2020. This will manifest itself in many ways, but the message to data center equipment providers is clear: The status quo is not acceptable.”

In December, Vertiv announced that it will become a publicly traded company (NYSE: VRT) as a result of its merger with GS Acquisition Holdings Corp (NYSE: GSAH, GSAH.U, GSAH WS). The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this year.

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