How Has COVID-19 Affected the Data Center Industry?
The coronavirus has brought change, upheaval and uncertainty to just about every aspect of daily life and business, and the data industry is no exception. As COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, continues to spread, data centers’ capacity to store, process and distribute data has become vital to ensuring successful communications and remote business operations.
How Is COVID-19 Affecting Digital Infrastructure?
How does COVID-19 affect data centers and digital infrastructure? COVID-19 has altered the way people use technology and network services. Before the pandemic, heavy demands on digital infrastructure primarily centered in large businesses and institutions like schools and hospitals, with personal networks receiving modest use as well. Now, with much of the workforce and many students dispersed into private residences, digital infrastructure must be able to provide reliable support across a range of networks and cope with substantial changes in demand.
Industries That Have Been Affected During the Pandemic
COVID-19 has affected a tremendous range of industries, causing explosions in demand for some and grinding others to a halt. Many industries that have thrived during the pandemic rely on digital infrastructure for their products and services. Here are a few of the industries that have experienced growth in response to COVID-19:
- Online communications platforms: As people distance themselves physically and spend more time at home, platforms like Zoom have thrived because they’ve helped keep people connected virtually. We’ve had programs like Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts for years, but Zoom provides particular benefits because it’s an easy way for whole groups of people to connect.
- Cloud services: As many employees have started working from home, cloud services have become essential to ensuring they can access their work materials remotely. The convenience and security of cloud services have increased their popularity immensely.
- Streaming services: During the pandemic, as people spend more time cooped up at home and less time out socializing with friends, many have turned to music and video streaming services for entertainment. With the stress and uncertainty surrounding health and safety, loved ones and personal livelihoods, it can be a relief to turn to a lighthearted movie or some soothing music at the end of a long day.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are a few of the industries that have struggled more during the pandemic. These services have tended to be physical operations rather than those relying heavily on digital interfaces:
- Dining: Many states enacted temporary shutdown orders that closed dining establishments for weeks. Though many businesses continued to offer drive-through or takeout services, they still saw their revenues drop. Even with many states reopening their eateries for business, limits on capacity and general public wariness about congregating with others have kept patronage low.
- Retail: Many retail stores had to shut down temporarily as well. Though many people stuck indoors may turn to online shopping for the things they need, fewer people are willing to venture out for shopping excursions.
- Transportation: The transportation industry has experienced a slowdown because lengthy travel in an enclosed vehicle like a plane or train can easily spread COVID-19. Multiple outbreaks on cruise ships, with more than 800 cases and ten deaths attributed to just three vessels, have served as cautionary tales. And with more of the workforce working from home, fewer people need to rely on public transportation to get to work every day.
How Has Data Center Demand Been Affected?
What role does COVID-19 play with data centers in terms of demand? Because so many industries that rely on digital infrastructure have seen an increase in the demand for their services, the demands on data centers’ network services have also risen sharply in many sectors. As businesses and schools move online, data centers must keep their data secure and their programs up and running.
During one month in Italy — a country COVID-19 hit particularly hard — Microsoft saw a 775% increase in monthly users of its Microsoft Teams cloud collaboration service. In March and early April of 2020, Google’s video chat services were adding 2 million new users a day and growing 60% day over day. All those new users need solid data center infrastructure to provide adequate network services and keep data secure.
How Has Data Changed?
In response to increased pandemic demands, data services have changed by optimizing the features people now need to work and communicate effectively.
During the pandemic, speed and scalability have become two essential factors. People need high-speed data services to handle the increased traffic on servers as more employees start working remotely. They also need those services to grow with them — for instance, by allowing more services to move online or by expanding a digital platform to encompass more capabilities. Scalable cloud applications will be particularly important as some clouds see considerable boosts in traffic while others are unused because few employees are present in a business’s physical offices.
Will COVID-19 Affect Data Centers Over the Long Term?
What will we see in the future for data? Only time will tell, but industry experts suggest that data centers will continue to see strong demand for their network services and other resources. Several uncertainties remain about how the pandemic will play out, how the role of digital infrastructure will evolve and how data centers and the economy will intersect. We don’t yet know when vaccines will be available, how effective they will be or how soon we will be able to return to something resembling normal life. We don’t know whether workplace models will ever go back to their pre-pandemic state.
We also don’t know what digital infrastructure we will need to cope with ongoing outbreaks or post-COVID-19 life. Much of the demand for data center services so far has come from cloud services and software as a service (SaaS) providers. However, some industry experts believe structural IT services will also play an integral role in industries like health care that have not digitized as fast as others. COVID-19 may provide the incentive that sectors like health care, government and education need to modernize. If so, they will need data centers to deliver network services and online data functionality.
Major companies in these industries may soon begin making permanent investments in IT infrastructure and data structure, cementing data centers as an integral part of doing business in the future. And because governments tend to consider data centers to be critical infrastructure, they are likely to have fewer limits on their construction and operation than many other businesses.
Make DataSpan Your Trusted Partner for Data Center Solutions
As COVID-19 continues to affect data centers, ensure that you have the tools you need to provide essential services for your customers. To align your data center’s capacity in anticipation of increased COVID-19 demand, partner with DataSpan for the latest technology solutions.
We can provide everything from data center products and networking services to storage capabilities and cloud and co-location solutions. Our dependable, state-of-the-art services will help you meet your data needs, and our experienced teams can help troubleshoot any challenges.