When we decided to do a mid-point update on the 2014 Data Center 2025 report we released five years ago, I had one piece of advice for our team: Don’t turn this into a report card. It’s not about grading the accuracy of those predictions. It’s about doing our best to help everyone better understand what’s around the corner. This industry moves far too fast to expect a 10-year forecast to anticipate every inevitable twist and turn. That said, the experts hit the target more than they missed with their 2014 forecast.
Easily the most notable difference between that initial report and the 2019 update is increased attention on the explosion of activity at the edge of the network. The edge was becoming an area of interest in 2014, but received only four mentions in the original report. It’s everywhere in the update, reflecting the increasingly distributed nature of the data center ecosystem. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say the activity at the edge has fundamentally changed the very definition of the data center in the five short years since the original survey.
Predicting potential challenges on the Edge of the Network
Consider this: Collectively, survey participants expect their total number of edge computing sites will more than triple between now and 2025. That’s a massive shift in the way we build, operate and service our networks. Truth is, those projections are probably a bit conservative. As 5G networks roll out, the edge will become even more critical and expand even more quickly.
As I looked at these new projections, I couldn’t help but consider them alongside another eye-opening data point: 33 percent of survey participants in the U.S. indicated they expect to retire by 2025. If the turnover across the industry even approaches that number, it will mean a massive exodus of valuable experience and institutional knowledge happening at the same time the industry is flocking to the edge. That combination could create a combustible environment for U.S.-based data centers. That makes it more important than ever for businesses to lean on experienced partners with the expertise to navigate change.
You’ll find plenty of interesting data points like these in the new report. I encourage you to check it out and join the discussion on my LinkedIn article. What are your predictions for the data center in 2025?