Sustainability and climate activities dominate the most important data center trends to keep an eye on

Vertiv (NYSE: VRT), a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, has compiled a list of key data center trends to keep an eye on, with a dramatic acceleration in activities aimed at addressing sustainability and navigating the climate crisis.

Vertiv’s experts see long-term conversations about efficiency and utilization in the data center develop to reflect a more comprehensive and aggressive focus on sustainability.

This movement recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis, the relationship between resource availability and rising costs and changing political winds around the world.

“Data center operators and vendors will actively pursue strategies that can make a real difference in dealing with the climate crisis,” says Vertivs CEO Rob Johnson. “For our part, we continue to focus on energy efficiency across our portfolio, as well as alternative and renewable energy technologies and carbon-free energy sources, to prioritize anhydrous refrigeration technologies and collaborate with research leaders and our customers to focus on effective sustainability efforts.”

The actions that data center decision makers are taking on these fronts will have a profound impact on the digital economy in 2022 and beyond. The urgency of these challenges is reflected in the trends:

– Data centers tackle sustainability and the climate crisis: The data center industry has taken steps towards more climate-friendly practices in recent years, but operators will participate more purposefully in climate efforts by 2022. On the operational front, Vertiv experts predict that some organizations will embrace sustainable energy strategies using a digital solution that matches energy consumption with 100% renewable energy and ultimately operates on 24/7 sustainable energy. Such hybrid distributed energy systems can provide both alternating current and direct current, adding opportunities to improve efficiency and ultimately allowing data centers to operate carbon-free. Fuel cells, renewable assets and long-term energy storage systems, including battery energy storage systems (BESS) and lithium-ion batteries *, will all play a vital role in delivering sustainable, robust and reliable results. Thermal systems using zero water are in demand and we will see refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) stepped down in favor of refrigerants with low GWP.

More immediately, extreme weather events related to climate change will affect decisions about where and how to build new data centers and telecommunications networks. Other factors, including grid reliability and affordability, regional temperatures, water availability and renewable and locally produced sustainable energy, and rules that ration supply power and limit the amount of power to data centers, play a role in the decision.

These extreme weather events will require more robust infrastructure systems across the information and communication technology (ICT) field that need to be adapted in line with sustainability objectives. By 2022, data center and telecom operators will struggle with these issues – and the ever-present latency issue – and will drive the need for solutions that can address these challenges.

* Important note about lithium-ion batteries: Vertiv experts expect the lithium-battery recycling infrastructure to be expanded by 2022, eliminating one of the few remaining barriers to widespread use of lithium-ion batteries in the data center.

– Artificial intelligence becomes real: As today’s networks become more complex and more distributed, and the metaverse’s demands for augmented and virtual reality become more prominent, the need for real-time computing and decision-making becomes more critical. This real-time need is sensitive to latency, and under the increasingly common hybrid model of enterprise, public and private clouds, colocation, and edge, full-time manual management is impractical, if not impossible. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will be crucial in optimizing the performance of these networks.

It will take focus and time to gather the right data, build the right models and train the networking platform to make the right decisions. However, the programming tools have been simplified enough that computer scientists are able to put computer resources on a problem without having to be experts in programming or hardware. The availability of AI hardware from established vendors, cloud capabilities, a simplified “toolchain” and an educational focus on computer science have put AI at stake for even smaller companies. It all lends itself to accelerated AI adoption in 2022.

As with all technological advances, there are rings in the water. The increase in artificial intelligence will inevitably increase the data processing and heat density and, consequently, accelerate the introduction of liquid cooling. Among the challenges is that by lowering the access barrier, it is crucial to choose the right suppliers, platforms and systems you can trust.

– The post-pandemic data center is taking shape: About 2.9 gigawatts of new data center construction is underway globally – up from 1.6 gigawatts in 2020 (Cushman & Wakefield). These data centers will be the first built specifically to meet the needs of a post-COVID world. More activity will be focused on the so-called edge, where VMware expects a dramatic shift in workload distribution – from 5% at present to 30% over the next five years. Accessibility will remain a top priority, even in the edge function, but lower latency is a growing need to be able to support healthy buildings, smart cities, distributed energy resources and 5G. 2022 will see increased investment in the edge to support this new normal (teleworking, increased dependence on e-commerce and telecommunications health, video streaming) and the continued rollout of 5G.

– Towards integration: For years, various data center equipment providers have embraced integrated systems that allow for modular capacity enhancements, with integrated racks and rows among today’s most popular data center offerings. In 2022, we will see the next steps in integration, as data centers work with providers to better integrate larger systems – for example, all components of the power infrastructure – and deliver seamless interoperability.

Source: IT-Kanalen by

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