By Nilesh Parmar, UK Head of
Manufacturing & Technology,
In the past two years alone, more data has been produced
than in the previous 5,000 years of human history. With the
rate of growth expected to continue almost exponentially,
it’s predicted that by 2020 there will be 10 times the
amount of data there is today. The sheer scale of the
data industry is mind-boggling, but where does all this
Data centres: bigger & better
The UK boasts the largest data centre market in Europe.
Digital Realty recently reported that the data economy is
worth over £70bn to the UK each year and that each new
data centre bought online can add over £600m to the UK
economy. However, as technology continues to evolve, and
organisations become increasingly digital, it’s becoming
more and more difficult for data centres to meet the
growing demand for storage.
From autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things
(IoT) to the rise in home streaming services like Netflix
and Spotify, digital technology is central to the way we live
today. The problem is, these innovations all demand space
for data exchange.
Hyperscale data centres are providing part of the answer.
As requirements for cloud-based computing become
increasingly widespread, extra-large high-density data
centres are being delivered to feed the demand for storage.
The colocation data centre market – selling space as a
service – is growing fast, and competition for secure, reliable
and efficient data facilities, delivered to meet ever-growing
consumer demand will only intensify.
5G connected cities
Data is becoming increasingly integral to the digital
operation of the world around us, with fifth generation
mobile networks soon to become a reality in the UK. From
smart ticketing to integrated travel planning across road, rail
and air, our cities are getting ready for a more connected
future. 5G is vital for new technologies such as the safe
operation of autonomous vehicles and the widespread
rollout of drone deliveries, which means that upgrading
the necessary infrastructure to support this technology is
This isn’t just about installing more mobile phone masts
though. We need to find different routes and mediums
If data really is the new oil, how
much more valuable has data
become in recent years?
for the transport of 5G, including network sharing and
closer integration with cloud infrastructure. Data centres
will have a crucial role to play in relaying this influx of new
information, and it’s going to be vital to ensure they have
the necessary bandwidth to cope with the volume of 5G
data passing through the network.
The rise of edge computing
Fortunately, another answer to address the lack of
capacity in data centres lies in the evolution of data centre
technology itself. Edge computing has been heralded as
the next big thing alongside the cloud. The Edge refers to
computing infrastructure that exists close to the source of
the data, meaning that massive amounts of information can
be accessed much more easily.
Edge Computing reduces data transfer latency, where
milliseconds make a real difference. For example, self-driving
vehicles reacting to an obstacle and complex financial
trading both require super-low latency. Because the data
is stored and processed closer to the application itself,
rather than in the cloud, it means the data storage space
requirements are also smaller.
Crucially, cloud computing still has a critical role to play,
but as part of a mixed mode of delivery. Data centres
are power-hungry assets and operating costs can often
be prohibitive. However, the decentralisation of analytics
capability to edge computing solutions mean that the data
centre estate can become regionalised and more diverse
in terms of scale and density. Connecting and repurposing
vacant or underused property to deliver cloud requirements
within the context of broader edge computing will be key.
The digital future
Technology is constantly evolving, and as our future becomes
more and more digitised the impact will increasingly be felt
in our day-to-day lives. Ensuring that the infrastructure is in
place to cope with the growing demands that will be placed
on it by an ever-more data-centric society is key.
Data storage is an integral part of the picture, but to
ensure data centres as a physical asset remain fit for
purpose they will also need to keep pace with the speed
of technological change. The opportunities for growth are
immense, but most importantly can only be realised if we
are prepared to adapt and reinvent the old models. n