More Data In More Places: The Global Outlook For Data Centers Is Strong
The market for data centers is expanding worldwide, just as it is in the United States, and for similar reasons. The world is using more data than ever, and needs places to put it.
There are opportunities worldwide for U.S. data center developers and operators, but transnational deals require special care — namely, it is best to hire local talent, the speakers said. International growth needs to be carefully considered.
"Don't go global just for the sake of going global," Bridge Data Centres Vice President of Sales Roxanna Cieplinska said.
In much of the EU, the same companies are driving growth as in the U.S. — Amazon, Google and Microsoft, with the major data center clusters in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Dublin — Host in Ireland founder and President Garry Connolly said on the International Data Center Outlook panel at Bisnow's Midwest Data Center Investment Conference and Expo Tuesday.
Growth markets in Europe have the 5 Ps: Policy, Pedigree, People, Power and Pipes, Connelly said. Pedigree is the global companies and pipes refer to the all-important global connectivity. He said that Ireland, which has a complex relationship with its data centers, is an example of such a market.
Consolidation of the data center industry is practically complete in the EU, as it is in the United States, ServerCentral President Bill Lowry said. The Asia-Pacific region will be the next place to see a wave of consolidation, he said.
Lowry said Brazil is a huge market for data centers, but there are challenges in the entire Latin American market, especially with insufficient connectivity.
"It's hard to build a single strategy for all of South America," Lowry said.
One looming question in the data center world involves the creation of massive amounts of data — what to do with it all? That was on the minds of the speakers on the Future of Technology panel.
One of the reasons for strong demand for data centers is the "sprawl of data" being produced by ever more sophisticated technologies — data that companies want to keep, not necessarily because they can use it now, or even understand what it all means, the speakers said.
"One of the biggest challenges is what to do with all the data that's being produced," Walgreens Director of Data Center and Server Services John Brooks said. "How do you monetize it? How do you make sure it's secure?"
"Companies haven't always learned to formulate the questions they need to ask to understand their masses of data," Turing Group Managing Partner and Chief Technology Officer Eric Dynowski said.
The worry is that the data might be valuable in the near future, and so data owners would rather err on the side of caution and hold on to it.
"The default is to save everything," VIATechnik founder and CEO Danielle Dy Buncio said. "You can't use it later if you don't have it."
The technology panelists also discussed the role of artificial intelligence, which is one vast source of data creation and nothing human laborers should be afraid of.
"AI isn't going to take over," Dy Buncio said. "It allows computers to do computer tasks, and humans to do human tasks."
Certain industries are already benefiting from its application to reduce labor costs, mostly through the elimination of repetitive tasks by people. The construction industry, for instance, is going to make more use of AI in the future, the speakers said, especially to help deal with labor shortages.
AI is also facilitating autonomous vehicle development, another potentially very data-intensive industry.
"People imagine that means having your car drive you to work, and that will happen eventually, but so far most of the progress have been with heavy vehicles on controlled paths," Dy Buncio said. Mining is one example of an industry now making greater use of self-driving vehicles.