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Looking Back: Trend Forecasts are Clear When Viewed in Hindsight

Rob Johnson •

For several years now, Vertiv experts have been predicting trends expected to impact the data center in the coming year. This year’s forecast touches on everything from hybrid architectures to the international influence on the data center. I don’t want to give it all away here, so I urge you to read the full report.

Our annual trends projection is more than a thought exercise. The data center industry demands a relentless focus on what comes next, and any organization that fails to look ahead and anticipate change is destined to fall behind. Vertiv will not make that mistake. As a result, we’re always doing the work today with an eye on tomorrow to best support our customers.

As I thought about this year’s trends, I couldn’t help but wonder about last year’s predictions, and the years before. How did we do? So I took a look.

Our goal with this project is to identify trends before they hit the mainstream, but not so far out as to be irrelevant. It’s a tough needle to thread, but it turns out our experts are pretty darn good at this. We were projecting growth at the edge of the network as far back as 2015, well before the edge and distributed networks changed how we think about the data center, and edge computing has been included in every trends list since. We were ahead of the curve on lithium-ion batteries in 2016. Today, lithium-ion is a widely accepted alternative to traditional lead acid batteries.

In 2017, as the industry was preparing to move on from the traditional enterprise data center, we saw more nuance. Our experts predicted more of a reconfiguring of the enterprise, with organizations leveraging owned and cloud resources in early versions of hybrid networks. So far, I would say our forecast has been mostly accurate.

We’ve had a couple misses as well. We predicted a serious push around data center sustainability as early as 2015, and those efforts have progressed slower than we expected. I’m happy to report activity on that front seems to be picking up, and we’ve committed to do our part. We also were early on the high-density trend, predicting an increase in average rack densities back in 2017 that still hasn’t happened. Instead, we’re seeing high-density racks in pockets, which presents a different challenge to data center operators.

We’ve had more hits than misses in our forecasts, which gives me great confidence in this year’s predictions. As you look ahead to 2020 and beyond, what trends – large or small – do you expect will have an impact on the data center?


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