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Hundreds of data center professionals came together at Bisnow's DICE East conference Thursday, where one of the hot topics was the emergence of renewable energy as a must-have for data center facilities. But the full-day event featured several other panels that discussed a wide variety of trends in the industry.
On the Future of Infrastructure in the Cloud Age panel, speakers discussed how the migration of end users to the cloud is affecting their business. QTS Executive Vice President Matt Tyndall said it has driven the company to simplify what it is doing and focus on cost and speed to stay relevant with its customer base.
Blockchain was a hot topic on the Future of Technology Panel. The technology, an encrypted ledger for recording and permanently securing transactions, is still in its infancy, Element Critical's Jason Green said. Given how power-intensive blockchain and related cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum can be, he said it represents a big opportunity for data centers to capture a new market.
EdgeMicro CEO Mike Hagan, speaking on the Micro Data Centers and The Edge panel, said improving latency is critical for maintaining a reliable customer experience. He said the adoption of 5G will be critical in improving the speed, reliability and efficiency of moving data.
During the lunch-and-learn workshop, speakers outlined strategies for efficiently cooling data centers. They discussed the rise of water cooling and compared the advantages of using water with the benefits of traditional air cooling.
With land getting increasingly expensive, some data center developers and users are thinking about multistory facilities. Dropbox Head of Physical Infrastructure David Fielder said the company would be open to facilities of any height as long as the deal mechanics work. HITT Contracting's Ross Rebraca said any building can be adapted for data center use, but taller ones are unlikely to work for large hyperscale users that require intensive power and cooling.
The data center space has been rife with major mergers and acquisitions in recent years, including Digital Realty's $5B merger with DuPont Fabros. Mintz Levin's Jeff Moerdler said the rapid M&A activity presents an opportunity for midsize firms to grow and become acquisition targets, and for small firms to expand and fill the void of mid-tier companies.
While many economists predict the U.S. economy at large is in the late stages of the cycle, data center experts say their industry is just beginning to ramp up. Kestrel Venture Partners' Howard Horowitz said it is still in the "early stages of growth." Landmark Dividend's John Regan said the industry's expansion so far is just the "tip of the iceberg." Carter Validus' Jason Reed said the data center industry is still in the early innings and he sees a ton of real estate opportunities.