Data centres : 6 trends for 2023

Data centres, where data are processed and stored, have become an essential part of the digital infrastructure in our fast-moving world. In 2023, there are many emerging trends that could shape this developing sector, from the increasing adoption of the cloud to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), through to changes in security and sustainability needs. This is an opportunity to review 6 major trends that could have a significant impact on the future of data centres in 2023 – and beyond !

Trend 1 : Reusing heat to improve energy efficiency

Energy constraints caused by recent and ongoing geopolitical conflicts have increased concerns about energy consumption. Investing in research to find new ways to reuse energy should be a priority for all data centres. Two major indicators are used in this regard:

  • Energy reuse effectiveness (ERE).
  • Power usage effectiveness (PUE), which is a measure used to determine the energy efficiency of a data centre.

ERE shows how energy is used by other parts of the facility or by third-party buildings in the vicinity of data centres, such as houses, offices and restaurants. This new measure is a tool for the sustainable development of data centres that complements PUE, which does not take account of recovered energy. In 2023, data centres will need to make significant efforts to better reuse their residual heat.

Trend 2 : Bringing value to local communities and investing in sustainable development

This second trend is a direct consequence of the first. Most data centres need to adopt truly sustainable policies to have a positive impact on their local community (neighbourhood, city or urban area). Data centres need to determine their own sustainability restrictions and policies to supplement decisions made by the governing bodies in the cities or countries where they are located, irrespective of the needs or specific characteristics of the sector.

Data centres can bring significant benefits to surrounding communities in terms of direct or indirect job creation, education and well-being; they can also provide innovations in terms of energy efficiency, which can be exported to other sectors or uses. A data centre is in a way a catalyst for an ecosystem that is created around it to provide services and technologies to its customers.

Trend 3 : Developing new cooling techniques

One of the strategies for reducing PUE that we have seen in recent years, and which will remain strong in 2023, is to increase the operating temperature of data centres to limit the use of cooling. Manufacturers and professionals are working extensively on solutions for liquid cooling (or direct cooling or immersion cooling).

Trend 4 : Accepting that the digitisation of activities is here to stay

All companies are striving to boost their productivity and efficiency, and to do so they need to increase their digital capacity. This means that many of them are first opting for public cloud solutions.

Companies are now faced with two alternatives: either they turn to colocation in current or future spaces, which are becoming increasingly scarce, or they make the leap to the public cloud. There is also a third option with hybridisation: companies will have their own space for recurring, high-security costs and will use the public cloud for high-variability fees, maximising their efficiency and productivity.

However, the cost and time required to build one’s own data centre are increasing, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and supply chain tensions. As a result, existing data centres are becoming more attractive for rapid deployment.

Trend 5 : Capitalising on the rise of edge computing

The use of 5G is growing and the IoT is becoming more prevalent. These sensors and devices have to process large amounts of data at high speeds, so data centres need to be prepared to handle these situations. As IoT data are geographically dispersed, it is also necessary to not concentrate all the processing points and servers that exchange data with these devices, resulting in a wide variety of locations. Stakeholders in edge computing include operators, IT vendors and, of course, data centres such as those of Data4.

Trend 6 : Consolidating national centres

The sixth trend is related to the gradual decentralisation of IT capacity that started in FLAP (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris) markets and now needs to be consolidated in national data centres.

Data centres have evolved rapidly in recent years to become pillars for the digitisation of our economy. In the future, they will continue to become more essential than ever, but their existence and success will be linked to truly sustainable and responsible practices in their relations with the communities with which they co-exist.