The data center industry is extremely fast-paced. Trends and standards are in constant flux; consumer demand for added bandwidth; security concerns; and pressure to cut high energy bills are pushing companies to consider outsourcing their IT platforms or adopting cloud services.

Because more business is happening online than ever before, a huge spotlight is placed on data center manufacturers to constantly deliver new and innovative solutions.

Be prepared to scale: Most recently, a trend I’ve noticed is the increase in scalability and flexibility needs in data center designs. Companies want to be able to expand their data centers according to individual needs and timetables – customization in this regard is key to staying ahead of the curve, and the demand.

To achieve this, many operators are requesting structure based aisle containment centers. This allows a data center to have an aisle containment structure for the current amount of cabinets, but is also easily expandable should the need for more cabinets arise in the future. Basically data center manufacturers are being asked to build an aisle containment structure, fill it out and then later add on.

When in doubt, stack them up: For data centers that already have existing cabinets, or are well established, there is this new trend to “add up.” Due to existing footprint constraints, some data centers have decided to expand up, rather than out.

Location is also a huge factor in this trend, in that most often a data center’s location is set and there is no extra real estate to expand upon. It’s definitely not for every company, but we have been seeing an increasing number of requests for this kind of upward expansion.

Really look into the cloud: In this day and age, data centers are aging. Besides the limited amount of real estate, the costs of maintaining and updating a data center are becoming too expensive. Companies do not want to pour tons of money into getting a data center back up to speed. Instead, they are opting into the cloud to lessen upkeep costs and solve limited space issues. Unfortunately, this new cloud trend is laced with security and privacy concerns.

While cloud systems are scalable to a company’s individual business needs, unlike a traditional data center that has limited capacity, a huge disadvantage is that a third-party will be managing your data center. Many third-party cloud providers do not allow clients to see into their cloud environments well enough to protect user data. Also, many of the public cloud providers do not offer access or insight to security technologies many corporations have come to rely on.

Most concerns surrounding cloud or hybrid data centers are over threats of data confidentiality and loss of control. For companies this is an issue with, I’ve noticed they are tending to stick with their own data centers.

Work smarter: One last trend that has become quite controversial is the growing pressure for companies to find workable ways to integrate renewable energy into their data centers. Unlike the housing industry, renewable energy options like solar panels are not feasible for a data center. Due to the physical scale of a data center, renewable energy options need to be a lot cheaper for companies to move this up the list of priorities.

Currently, improving the efficiency of a data center is a better choice for most companies. The focus is on custom designs versus off-the-shelf, cookie cutter designs that maximize efficiency and reduce energy use. I expect that in the very near future companies will be forced to adapt their data centers to meet new requirements and placate public perception.

With the constant evolution in technology, some of the trends in the data center industry are fleeting, but throughout 2016, we’ve seen custom-made and buildable data centers grow faster than ever with no sign of slowing down. It’s an exciting thing to witness, especially since we’ve been at the forefront of this revolution.

(About the author: As the director of engineering for DAMAC, Erich Hamilton provides support for accounts from the ground up. From concept and design to troubleshooting and marketing, Hamilton is the cornerstone for all things racks and containment. After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Hamilton worked as a Design Engineer for Northrop Grumman, overseeing various contracts. When Hamilton is not developing innovative designs for DAMAC, he spends his time hiking trails of California, yoga and enjoying a great vegetarian meal. )

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