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Report Forecasts Major Changes to the Data-Center Ecosystem

The report projects significant increases in density, cloud adoption, and the use of solar power.

The data center as we know it will undergo massive changes over the next decade, a report recently released by Emerson Network Power says.

The report, “Data Center 2025: Exploring the Possibilities,” summarizes four months of global research designed to identify the industry’s vision of the data center in the year 2025. More than 800 data-center professionals from around the world responded to a survey, with dozens of others contributing their thoughts via interviews, e-mail, and video. The feedback indicates most in the field remain bullish on the data-center industry and continued innovation in the information-technology (IT) space and beyond. For example, according to the Data Center Users’ Group sponsored by Emerson Network Power, average density has remained relatively flat since peaking at around 6 kW nearly a decade ago. Yet, on average, Data Center 2025 participants predicted density of 52 kW per rack in 2025. Such a dramatic upswing in density could radically change the physical environment of the data center.

“We started the Data Center 2025 initiative with a sincere desire to discover what our customers, collaborators, colleagues, and others in the data-center community believe the future holds for this industry,” Steve Hassell, president, data-center solutions, Emerson Network Power, said. “We approached the research with an open mind, no expectations, and no preconceived notions of what we would find. The results reflect a level of sophisticated understanding, visionary thinking, and genuine optimism.”

According to the report:

  • Participants believe a mix of sources will be used to provide electrical power to data centers. Solar will lead, followed by a nearly equal mix of nuclear, natural gas, and wind. Sixty-five percent believe it is likely hyperscale facilities will be powered by private power generation.
  • Participants predict two-thirds of data-center computing will be done in the cloud in 2025. According to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index, cloud workloads represent around 46 percent of current total data-center workloads and will reach 63 percent by 2017.
  • Twenty-nine percent of the participants anticipate comprehensive visibility across all systems and layers, while 43 percent expect data centers to be self-healing and self-optimizing. That means 72 percent of the participants believe some level of data-center-infrastructure management (DCIM) will be deployed in 2025—significantly higher than most current estimates of DCIM adoption.
  • Increased visibility is expected to lead to more efficient performance overall, as 72 percent of the participants expect IT-resource-utilization rates to be at least 60 percent in 2025. The average projection is 70 percent. That compares with estimated averages today as low as 6 to 12 percent, with best practices somewhere between 30 and 50 percent.

“The data center of 2025 certainly won’t be one data center,” Andy Lawrence, vice president of Datacenter Technologies and Eco-efficient IT at 451 Research, said. “The analogy I like to use is to transport. On the road, we see sports cars and family cars, we see buses, and we see trucks. They have different kinds of engines, different types of seating, and different characteristics in terms of energy consumption and reliability. We are going to see something similar to that in the data-center world. In fact, that is already happening, and I expect it to continue.”

To view the full report and video input from industry experts, visit


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