However, the next bubble in data centre capacity isn’t going to come in 2011 as it’s likely to be a year of slow and cautious recovery, with demand and supply continuing to increase at a slower rate. The net effect will be a mild increase in colocation prices over the year. Little new capacity is likely to become available for rental in London during the year, but the on-going trend for capacity to be built outside the M25 will continue.
The move for capacity to be built local to markets will continue, and will satisfy a growing number of local customers, particularly smaller businesses that recognise they have outgrown the “server cupboard under the stairs’ and need to start locating their critical equipment in a secure environment with reliable power, cooling and connectivity. Customers who do need low latency or central access or the ability to connect through multiple carriers will continue to locate their equipment in central London, which is where the Internet is.
Roll on the Olympics
2011 will see activity surrounding the 2012 Olympics ramping up which will have an effect on the London data centre market. The games will drive data centre capacity utilisation which will be planned in 2011 and installed in 2012. Unfortunately, it will also be un-installed in 2012. This presents the London colocation and data centre market with an interesting pricing challenge.
Green debate continues
The general world-wide concern with the environment will continue, and public consciousness of the issues will deepen. The data centre industry has so far stayed largely under the public perception radar (on some counts, the data centre industry generates more carbon and warming than the air transport industry, but is much less visible). That may not last, and it is for the industry to get itself prepared before any public spotlight turns on it.
Data centres (or well-run and professional ones anyway) will be continuing to work away at improving energy efficiency. The Carbon Reduction Commitment rules will start to come into play, with publication of league tables of the good and the bad, based on their rate of improvement over time. The big data centres will certainly figure in those, and it will be interesting to see who goes up and down.
Coping with the inevitable energy price hikes
Electricity prices are likely to rise in 2011, and there will be continued pressure on data centres to use less and to use it more efficiently. This drive will fail, as it always does, because released capacity is taken up by new applications no-one has yet thought of. However, the drive for efficiencies will continue. In particular, cooling, which is where most data centres waste most energy, will be a particular focus, since it is where the greatest savings can be made with the lowest capital investment.
Battle for refrigerators is taken to the supermarket aisles
Technology trends in data centre design are already established, and 2011 is likely to see a continuation of those trends rather than any dramatic new departure (but then if we all knew about those in advance, they wouldn’t be dramatic, would they)? Moves towards greater cooling efficiency will continue, with replacements of older chillers using R22 refrigerant accelerating, as the (ozone-depleting and now-illegal) R22 refrigerant becomes in short supply. The panic predicted by the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry might actually happen in 2011, since most of the UK’s stock of refrigerators use R22 and it is now illegal to manufacture or import it. Badly-run data centres which have ignored all these warnings may find themselves fighting supermarkets for supplies of R22 recovered from scrapped units.
More data centres will start using efficient UPS systems. Older systems waste a lot of energy in heat in the industry-standard double-conversion process, and restrict the power which can be delivered to the electronic equipment from the supplies because of poor power factor performance. Modern high-speed electronics can work in time scales well under a mains cycle, so can dynamically alter the way the load is presented to the mains supply. That means it is possible to achieve power factors of 1.0 at the supply, whist delivering to the electronic load at 0.9. Similarly, average efficiencies can be greatly increased by switching the electronic load directly to the mains supply, then recovering it back within a small part of a cycle at the slightest hint of a disturbance. UPS systems incorporating both these technologies have become available, and their advantages are such that their take-up will increase during 2011.
2011 won’t be a year of great drama in the colocation and data centre industries. The economic recovery is tentatively underway, but has not yet really taken hold, and the UK market will develop in line with slowly increasing confidence. When we write this next year, we will be more confident in the business outlook and we will be on the bottom of the slope up towards the next bubble.
Tags: Design & Facilities Management, Hosting & Colocation