What will the data centre of 2025 really be like?

Those deployments are then likely to enable smart-city and smart-grid solutions, importantly with the possibility of the re-use of the waste heat. For businesses with suburban campuses, it could enable the deployment of modular, pre-fabricated data centres, rather than requiring office space to be used for the data centre.

TRP: How is the management of data centres likely to change in the future?

IB: Data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) helps increase data centre resource effectiveness as well as reduce costs and maintain availability. By 2025, DCIM vendors expect data centre management systems to deliver the control required for self-optimisation and for the industry to move all the way to self-healing, providing a level of automation and control that will enable a data centre to function without human intervention in the event of sub-system failure.

It is also expected that full visibility across all data centre systems and technology layers could be achieved. However, until this is so, it is essential that management drives up ICT equipment utilisation rates from the very low averages of today.

TRP: In 2025, are fully automated data centres realistic?

IB: Based on current trends, fully automated data centres by 2025 are a real possibility. In fact for monolithic single application facilities, such as search engines, this is largely already happening, but the extension to thousands of applications within a given facility will take some time to fully automate.

In essence, with technology developing at such a rapid rate, it is possible that data centres of the future will become self-healing, which means fully-automated. Additionally, 25% of data centre experts believe that data centres will also become self-optimising in the future, suggesting that an automated future is indeed a target.

TRP: Technical innovation has played an integral part in data centre evolution – what's next?

IB: Our recent research found IT equipment manufacturers will be the most likely source of impactful innovation, including energy effectiveness. Our studies have also found that hyper-scale data centres may show a lead, along with infrastructure equipment manufacturers' innovation, in playing an integral role in the data centre low-energy evolution.

Nevertheless, regardless of where innovation comes from, it is clear that the industry will need to drive and embrace innovation to meet the growing needs of social and business applications in terms of energy source, resource utilisation, power density and management.

Broadly, there are three distinct visions for the data centre of the future. The 'Conservative' vision expects to see a data centre ecosystem similar to the one that exists today, but larger with moderate resource effectiveness. The 'Moderate' vision sees enterprise data centres that will leverage standard technologies and modular designs to minimise operational costs and provide much greater flexibility than exists today.

The final vision, the 'Progressive' vision, foresees smaller distributed data centres that are much more resource effective than those of today, overlaid with super-effective low energy hyper-scale collocation and social networking facilities.

It is likely that all three of these visions may co-exist to some degree. The data centre of 2025 could be compared to transport – just like the variations between family cars and sports cars, buses and trucks, data centres will have varying characteristics and reliability depending upon load and speed.

What is certain is that future computing and storage vehicles will likely be more resource effective, more powerful and denser than those of today.

About Ian Bitterlin

Ian is Chief Technology Officer at Emerson Network Power in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.