The Future Of Data Center Design

November 1, 2023

Keeping up with trends is essential to staying modern as the data center industry transforms and expands. Data center trends influence where the industry leads and which companies can reach the forefront. Embracing new industry trends and anticipating data center design challenges can help your company stay ahead.

Optimizing data center design per 2023’s developments requires designers to consider supply chain changes, unpredictable weather patterns, customer needs, increased equipment heat production, energy efficiency, risk reduction and resource consumption.

Trends and Factors Affecting Data Center Design

Predicting potential challenges helps reduce risk. When you know what to expect and how to prepare for significant challenges, you can pursue company goals and outperform the competition. Consider the following trends driving the future of data center design:

Supply Chain Unpredictability

Supply chain unpredictability can potentially affect data center construction schedules and budgets. Data center design and implementation is a long process due to the following factors:

  • Site selection
  • Planning
  • Assessment
  • Design
  • Pre-construction work
  • Data center construction

While building a data center within a year to a year and a half may seem like the ideal timeline, this estimate may increase in the upcoming years. Supply costs and availability can significantly affect budgets and timelines, and the supply chain can sometimes be unpredictable. For example, steel prices spiked in April 2022 due to political conflict, increasing data center construction costs.

Increasing Heat Production and Long-Lasting Systems

Data centers can last 20 or more years, but IT equipment consumes more power and produces more heat every 18 months. The increased heat production is primarily due to the increasing use of multicore processors and graphics processing units (GPUs). As power supply capacity and heat production increase, designers must prioritize cooling.

Rather than replacing a long-lasting data center each time power supply capacity rises, companies must plan to provide the necessary cooling capabilities for future demands. Data center designers must consider the following solutions to address this challenge:

  • Increasing cooling capabilities: Increasing current cooling capabilities to protect future equipment helps companies prepare for increased heat production, but owning additional equipment that goes unused ties up valuable capital.
  • Accommodating cooling redesigns: Data center designers can configure equipment to accommodate periodic cooling redesigns. However, this type of configuration also presents a significant cost increase.
  • Reducing rack density: Reducing rack density can compensate for inadequate cooling, but this solution can reduce value and space utilization efficiency.

Implementing effective cooling technology can help you maintain safe equipment as power consumption and heat production increase. Install the highest-quality cooling equipment that can scale with you as your company grows.

Climate Change and Unpredictable Weather

Designers must consider climate change and unpredictable weather to create innovative designs and mitigate risk. Extreme weather events can occur anywhere, exposing equipment to high heat, extreme cold or strong winds. Designing data centers to withstand weather extremes adds a crucial layer of protection.

Calls for Lower Resource Consumption

Resource consumption efficiency helps companies improve public relations, decrease operating costs and reduce their environmental impact. Reducing resource consumption is a trend that will continue in upcoming years, increasing the demand for innovative designs and reduced raw material usage. Data centers can reduce costs and material waste by preassembling equipment; and they can decrease power consumption by improving cooling technologies.

Designers should also plan to reduce data center water consumption, as this continues to be an industry concern. For example, some companies implement a direct cooling method. The direct cooling method filters and circulates outside air through data racks to reduce water consumption.

Energy efficiency is a growing point of interest as well. Due to increasing equipment operational temperatures, it’s important for data center designers to find innovative ways to decrease energy usage.

Risk Reduction Requirements

Data center downtime can occur due to inclement or extreme weather, fires, system malfunction, network disruptions, maintenance needs, human error, power outages and outdoor factors such as sand and water intrusion. Risk reduction is crucial as data centers expand their capabilities and face multiple risks. Implementing reliable power redundancy models and external risk protection helps companies prevent system downtime and protect sensitive data.

Demand for Small Data Centers

Smaller, distributed data centers allow organizations to serve customers rapidly, store data in specific locations and facilitate rapid analytics computing. While large data centers used to be an industry standard, more organizations prioritize availability, proximity and resource reduction over capacity. Small data centers are trending due to the following factors:

1. Availability

Smaller data centers allow designers and builders to meet the need for faster construction. Rather than waiting years for a large data center to go online, more organizations prefer to construct smaller centers that become usable more quickly.

2. Increased Security and Risk Reduction

Distributed data centers also help organizations reduce risks by distributing infrastructure in various locations. Other buildings and equipment are safe if a fire or power outage affects one center. Distributing data centers isolates a complication to one building if a damaging event occurs.

3. Proximity

5G-enabled hyperconnectivity allows people to produce and consume more data at the edge. More data centers will need greater proximity to reduce data transport costs and decrease latency for edge computing applications such as the following:

  • Automated retail
  • Video surveillance
  • Self-driving vehicles
  • Parking sensors
  • Responsive street furniture
  • Autonomous robots
  • Smart equipment

4. Data Location

Data protection laws require organizations to control data location. Conforming to customer and jurisdictional requirements helps companies maintain regulatory compliance, and smaller, distributed data centers make it easier to control data location.

Vendor Flexibility Needs

An increasing demand for flexibility requires more data centers to be vendor-agnostic, offering seamless administration and operational capabilities.

Flexible data centers enable organizations to streamline their maintenance and deployment processes and operate in any cloud environment. Designers can provide adequate interoperability levels by creating data centers made primarily of open-source components.

Focus on User Experience

User experience is always important, and prioritizing it continues to be a top trend. While flexibility, energy efficiency, risk reduction and data center size are essential, user experience should always be the priority to ensure a data center can serve its primary purpose. Cloud capabilities should be seamless, and they should apply in various environments including remote devices.

Optimize Your Future Data Center Design With DataSpan

As industry trends continue to evolve, data center design must do so as well to meet customer needs, increase efficiency, reduce risks and minimize costs. Facing new challenges with innovative solutions can help you optimize your data center design.

DataSpan offers products and services you can use to keep up with the latest industry trends and design a data center that grows with you. Our customized and scalable solutions allow you to meet your current and future needs effectively. Contact DataSpan to learn more about how we can assist you in designing an optimized data center.