Data centers provide organizations the physical infrastructure to run applications along with storing and processing massive amounts of data, among other things. For some businesses, the use of data centers can have drawbacks due to storage space limitations and complex data management requirements. Therefore, the future of data centers relies heavily on innovation and emerging technologies that can mitigate the ever-evolving demands of various industries and their associated applications. Let’s take a look at some of the technologies and innovations being employed in the data center field today
Innovations and Technologies
Data centers have been experiencing growth and evolution as the demands for applications increase. This also provides space for digitalization and the use of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud storage, edge computing, sustainable and renewable energy means, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some of the technologies being employed include:
Edge Data Centers
Edge data centers are an innovative technological solution for applications that require cloud computing services and are situated closer to the end devices and the application premises. In addition to cloud computing, edge data centers provide cached content to end users. One of the main reasons for the proximity of edge data centers to their end users is the ability to provide data services with a minimal level of latency. Due to the recent surge in the use of IoT devices and their associated applications, the level of latency required to maintain a smooth and seamless speed of data has become significant. Therefore, using the edge data center technology we can achieve high performance for demanding applications with a cost-effective solution.
Another important aspect of the edge data center is its smaller footprint while housing similar kinds of components as compared to the traditional data centers. It also acts as a part of a larger data center usually in the cloud architecture with the ability to communicate with other edge data centers.
Edge data centers can be used in industries with critical low-latency requirements. It can be used in smart city applications to gather real-time data from IoT devices and allow users to utilize services in an uninterrupted manner. Self-driving vehicles can also leverage the low-latency feature of edge data centers to collect and transfer data in real time. In emerging technologies especially in the era of Metaverse and augmented reality, the amount of data to be processed can be in huge numbers, therefore, the use of edge data centers can play a pivotal role in accessing data that is readily available with low latency. Similarly, the use of edge data centers can be found in industries such as gaming, CCTV monitoring, manufacturing, 5G technology, IoT, healthcare, telecommunication companies, etc. The use of edge data centers might not be widespread in applications today, however, it is expected to spread at a very fast pace as technologies evolve.
Cloud Data Services
Cloud data storage and access services are one of the most efficient ways of managing data resources as they do not occupy on-site premises thereby reducing the associated costs in maintenance, installation, and monitoring of traditional data centers. Leading industry giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have already been working on cloud storage services allowing their users to access data for both personal and commercial purposes. Depending on the types of applications to be stored and accessed, the use of cloud computing can be adopted. Applications that need any operation of legacy software and any industrial or governmental compliance do not usually opt for cloud services.
Sustainable Data Centers
With the growing need for applications to access and utilize data, the power requirements for data centers have also been increasing. The use of traditional power and energy resources adds to an additional cost not just to an organization’s bottom line but also to the environment. In recent years, the colocation industry has been experiencing a radical shift towards markets that are more conducive to data center sustainability.
Data centers involve the process of cooling, this can be carried out using the liquid cooling technique instead of air cooling systems that generally utilize more power. These systems can utilize the latest technology in terms of components that will eventually consume less power and will be more predominant in the future. Major US tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have taken the initiative to relocate their data centers from different locations to colder regions such as Sweden, this means fewer resources would be required to cool down the data center components.
The design of servers in the data centers has also been proposed to mitigate higher energy consumption. Low-power servers and modular design servers provide an energy-efficient design to store data and are advocated for to achieve better power consumption targets. The initiative of the undersea data center is already being taken by Microsoft which aims to go carbon-free by 2030. The main idea being employed by Microsoft is the utilization of natural seawater that acts as the coolant that will eventually lead to environmental sustainability.
Facebook has undertaken steps to conserve the water being used to cool down the data centers by employing winter humidification, this aims to improve operating efficiency by optimizing the relative humidity (RH). During a pilot project, it was observed that the RH adjustment at the data center in Los Lunas, New Mexico was found by lowering the current 20% minimum RH to 13% minimum RH, which reduced the water use by 40% over nine months.
The technological advancements in the field of data centers are crucial in providing seamless data storage and access facilities to users. Some of the technologies being employed for the future operations of the data centers include edge computing data centers that house their components close to the end users and offer the benefit of low latency. Edge data centers are ideal for applications that involve AI, IoT, autonomous vehicles, etc. Similarly, cloud computing is still one of the most important alternatives for different applications for data storage and access as it offers flexibility and cost-effective solution. The use of sustainable resources and technologies to operate the data centers have been adopted by tech giants that include the use of liquid cooling techniques, undersea data centers, efficient server designs, and relocation of data centers to cold regions.
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