Five data centre predictions for 2020

By Peter Westwood
Data is accumulating faster than ever before and emerging technologies, such as 5G, IoT and cloud computing, are causing the amount of data we produce t...

Data is accumulating faster than ever before and emerging technologies, such as 5G, IoT and cloud computing, are causing the amount of data we produce to spiral out of control. But against the backdrop of a climate crisis, what do the next 12 months have in store for the data centre sector? Peter Westwood, Data Centre Director at SPIE UK, provides his suggestions.

  1. Security of edge data centres gets serious

Edge data centres – smaller facilities located at the edge of a network to enable faster cloud services – are becoming more and more common. Where businesses and consumers prioritise speed of service, the requirement for low latency is high because it can act as a service differentiator. This is why local data centres are springing up closer to the users and applications to accelerate their experience. For example, hospitals and driverless cars depend on near-zero latency for data that needs to be immediately processed.

But there will be a serious knock-on effect in 2020: the physical security of data centres. The larger cloud data centres have thumb print security, iris scanning, security guards etc. But with edge, you might have a containerised solution and the network is far less secure – perhaps with the bare minimum physical security because there will be too many facilities to protect. Edge is only growing in popularity, but businesses need to bear in mind the associated risks.

  1. Growing gigacities 

The larger network providers are putting a large amount of resources in upgrading their infrastructure. As a result, in 2020 we will see the gigabit rollout with enhanced network and node sites popping up all over the country to support 5G, revolutionising healthcare, the way we live, work and play.


Network providers are putting a huge investment in to the gigabit cities which means that millions of users at home and work will have access to 1 Gigabit broadband speeds, allowing them to download an Ultra High Definition 4K film at a dramatically higher rate, and use multiple streaming devices at the same time. It opens up a world of possibilities, including cloud-based gaming, 8K streaming, remote health telemonitoring and advanced telepresence, which could enable consumers to go ‘virtual reality shopping’ or watch live broadcasts of holographic sports events.

  1. New cooling technology will be available to the masses  

Gartner estimates that energy costs are increasing at least 10 percent year-on-year as a result of cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rises in underlying demand, especially for high-power density servers. Therefore, in 2020 the adoption of liquid-based cooling will become more common, not just concentrated to the larger players with bigger budgets, as it is considered more efficient than air-based cooling.

The global data centre cooling market using liquid-based cooling techniques is expected to grow at a remarkable rate through 2020. Already, we’re seeing several server and data centre systems being pre-built with liquid cooling solutions, making it only likely to become common practise in data centre cooling strategies. 

  1. Serverless Architectures

The term “serverless computing” is actually quite misleading, there is still a server somewhere - the concept being that the provisioning of the servers is put in to the cloud providers hands of management, rather than the vendors. This is based on the cost of executions rather than the pre-purchased compute capacity, and it is generally a friendlier way to develop applications.

The serverless approach uses code to access data in a specific way to execute a task as programmed and uploaded to the vendors ecosystem. This makes it cheaper than the traditional cloud, more scalable, lower OPEX and better user experience.

  1. We could run out of data centres 

In 2020 the skills gap will truly come to a head in terms of both the building and operation of data centres. Fortunately, when it comes to the operational side of things, machine learning will be on hand to help alleviate the issue and you don’t actually need that many people to operate data centres. However, building the facilities will be held up by a lack of skills – we need more people with the knowledge to build and refurbish these facilities to keep up with demand or we face running out of storage and processing space.  


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