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April 30, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:21am

5 ways the data centre will be different by 2025

How will cloud affect data centre use?

By Joe Curtis

The data centre has come a long way since its emergence from the dotcom bust of the early 2000s.

But Emerson Network Power thinks it’s about to change a whole lot more as the firm sought to paint a picture of what it will look like in 12 years’ time.

Its four-month research and survey paper, Data Center 2025: Exploring the Possibilities, canvassed more than 800 data centre professionals to try and predict how the data centre of the future will work.

Here’s their top five findings.

Data centres will run on solar power

Electric’s on its way out. At least partially, with experts predicting a mix of energy sources will provide power in the future. Solar will lead, but nuclear, natural gas and wind will also play a part.

Solar accounted for less than 1% of US-generated power in 2012, but respondents predict it will contribute to 21% of data center power in 2025.

They won’t use as much energy, either

Two-thirds of respondents believe data centre infrastructure will require less energy to run, too. Richard Fichera, of Forrester Research, says in his Data Center 2025 video: "A data center being built in 2025…is going to be immensely energy efficient."

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Some of that efficiency is likely to be delivered by cheaper cooling costs, with air economisation – using outside air to cool down servers – being cited by one in five respondents as the primary method of cutting this expense.

Software failover will become the new backup

A quarter of those surveyed recognised the potential for software failover to become the new data centre backup paradigm – replacing today’s uninterruptible power supply (UPS)/ generator combination.

Consulting engineer Mark Monroe of DLB Associates said: "We have these ‘compute bubbles’ that we can move from server to server within a data center, and now we’re starting to see those bubbles move from one data center to another. I can see that becoming more common in 10 years, where we move the load to where it is most efficient or cheapest to run it at a given time. That has implications not only for load utilisation but for disaster recovery and planning."

Data centres will shrink in response to cloud computing

Two-thirds of respondents believe 60% of computing will be virtualised by 2025, leading to huge changes in IT.

Employees will become less reliant on enterprises’ own data centres, meaning the facilities will shrink. While 10% said data centres will become miniscule (just one-tenth of their current size), 58% estimate that they will halve in size.

This could lead to greater flexibility when it comes to choosing locations to build them, opening up towns and cities as possibilities.

Data centre management will be the industry’s saviour

Only 3% of people predict that data centre management systems will remain the same, while 43% believe the technology could lead to data centres becoming self-healing and fully automated.

The report read: "All devices will have automatic identification tags and data centers will be operated without human resources or with minimum human involvement."

Another 29% believe data centre management will achieve full visibility into all data centre layers by 2025, which should improve how IT resources are used effectively to at least 60%.

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