The ‘edge’ of the network continues to be the epicenter of innovation in the data center space as the calendar turns to 2019, stated data center expert organization Vertiv. Increasing sophistication of the edge would be among the data center trends to watch in 2019 as identified by Vertiv experts from around the globe.
“Today’s edge plays a critical role in data center and network operation and in the delivery of important consumer services,” said Rob Johnson, CEO of Vertiv. “This is a dramatic and fundamental change to the way we think about computing and data management. It should come as no surprise that activity in the data center space in 2019 will be focused squarely on innovation at the edge.”
Vertiv experts have identified the following data center trends for 2019:
 Simplifying the Edge
A smarter, simpler, more self-sufficient edge of the network is converging with broader industry and consumer trends, including the Internet of Things (IoT) and the looming rollout of 5G networks, to drive powerful, low-latency computing closer to the end-user.
For many businesses, ‘the edge’ has become the most mission critical part of their digital ecosystem. Intelligent infrastructure systems with machine learning capabilities working in tandem with cloud-based analytics are fundamentally changing the way we think about edge computing and edge services. The result will be a more robust, efficient edge of the network with enhanced visibility and self-healing capabilities requiring limited active management.
Virtually every aspect of business and society is starting to rely on edge computing to improve quality of life and become more connected and competitive. “For our customers – and their customers – continuity of compute and service is crucial,” said John Hewitt, president of Vertiv in the Americas. “Innovation in the edge space means addressing availability challenges with quickly deployed, scalable infrastructure; intelligent, remotely managed solutions; and lifecycle services that make edge compute sustainable for IT resources that are already stretching to meet SLAs.”
 Workforce Revolution
A workforce aging into retirement and training programs lagging behind the data center and edge evolution are creating staffing challenges for data centers around the globe.
This would trigger parallel actions in 2019, according to Vertiv. First, organizations will begin to change the way they hire data center personnel, moving away from traditional training programs toward more agile, job-specific instruction with an eye toward the edge. More training will happen in-house. And second, businesses will turn to intelligent systems and machine learning to simplify operations, preserve institutional knowledge, and enable more predictive and efficient service and maintenance.
 Smarter, More Efficient UPS Systems
New battery alternatives would present opportunities for the broad adoption of UPS systems capable of more elegant interactions with the grid.
In the short term, this will manifest in load management and peak shaving features. Eventually, we would see organizations using some of the stored energy in their UPS systems to help the utility operate the electric grid. The static storage of all of that energy has long been seen as a revenue-generator waiting to happen. According to Vertiv, we are moving closer to mainstream applications.
 Pursuing Normalization
The data center, even in the age of modular and prefabricated design, remains far too complex to expect full-fledged standardization of equipment.
However, there is interesting news on two fronts: standardization of equipment components and normalization across data center builds. The latter is manifesting in the use of consistent architectures and equipment types, with regional differences, to keep systems simple and costs down. In both cases, the goal is to reduce equipment costs, shorten delivery and deployment timelines, and simplify service and maintenance.
 High-Power Processors and Advanced Cooling
As processor utilization rates increase to run advanced applications such as facial recognition or advanced data analytics, high-power processors create a need for innovative approaches to thermal management.
Direct liquid cooling at the chip – meaning the processor or other components are partially or fully immersed in a liquid for heat dissipation – is becoming a viable solution, according to Vertiv. Although most commonly used in high-performance computing (HPC) configurations, the benefits – including better server performance, improved efficacy in high densities, and reduced cooling costs – would justify additional consideration. Another area of innovation in thermal management is extreme water-free cooling, which is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional chilled water.
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, USA, Vertiv employs around 20,000 people and does business in more than 130 countries. The company solves challenges faced by today’s data centers, communication networks and commercial and industrial facilities. Vertiv’s portfolio of solutions includes power, cooling and IT infrastructure products and services extending from the cloud to the edge of the network.