Why data centres are crucial whilst we face challenges from COVID-19

Jack Harris
The rapid shift to remote working and reliance on fundamental operational technologies would not be possible without one major physical asset – data centres.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has forced many organisations to close their office doors resulting in most employees working remotely for the foreseeable future. This rapid switch to remote working has seen the use of cloud-based documentation storage and sharing platforms become the norm and the use of some video conferencing tools increasing by as much as 200%, with most meetings held using video conferencing software. Outside of the workplace, the use of social media, online gaming and streaming has increased by almost 30% in some instances. This hasty shift to remote working and reliance on fundamental operational technologies would not be possible without one major physical asset – data centres. The usually large, warehouse type buildings known as ‘data centres’ are where the cloud becomes tangible. This is where key I.T infrastructure is located to ensure the world stays connected, entertained and operational 24/7.

The future looks positive for the data centre industry as the COVID-19 pandemic will certainly reshape how technology is used to communicate, work, entertain and educate.

Data centres are a fundamental asset at present, supporting technology that is helping governments, corporations and individuals navigate through uncertainty. An increased demand for digital services and infrastructure has created a surge in share prices of colocation date centres – further demonstrating their importance This has led to the merger and acquisition activity within the data centre sector surpassing that of 2019.

Despite economic uncertainty, we are seeing growing demand for digital infrastructure, stimulating and strengthening the data centre Data centreindustry. However, the increased demand placed on data centres inevitably has increased the requirement for 100% uptime, and the need to remain operational and resilient 24/7. It is therefore important that data centres still have human presence to ensure management, maintenance and security. In efforts to prevent COVID-19 from compromising operational ability, operators have implemented strategic measures such as: strict shift patterns for site personnel; supply chain integration to ensure critical spare equipment can be procured easily; and increased security measures.

The future looks positive for the data centre industry as the COVID-19 pandemic will certainly reshape how technology is used to communicate, work, entertain and educate. Organisations will be looking more than ever into their digital transformation strategy and investing in technologies to meet their strategy objectives and goals. The anticipated demand for technology that will facilitate this will in turn, increase the demand for data centre space and services. Even throughout this period of economic uncertainty, data centre owners and operators are setting aside funds for future investment in new build facilities, expansion projects and plant upgrades.

Data centres are a fundamental asset at present, supporting technology that is helping governments, corporations and individuals navigate through uncertainty. 

However, as the demand for data centre space continues to grow, it is important that sustainability remains a priority for data centre owners and operators. As capacity increases, so does the energy consumption; to run the IT equipment and, because this IT equipment generates a large amount of heat, energy is needed to cool and prevent overheating. Energy is usually the single largest operating cost for a data centre. A common misconception is that when more people work from home less emissions are emitted, as we assume is there is less traffic and therefore fewer emissions. We often do not consider the emissions generated by digital tools or how using these considerably more as we work from home impacts emissions figures. The industry has made a tremendous effort to ensure Data centre facilities are as sustainable as possible, with many colocation and hyperscale data centre operators adopting innovative technologies to enhance sustainability. As demand is projected to grow, it is important data centres concentrate on low energy consumption and associated PUE’s (Power Usage Effectiveness Ratio), solutions such as free cooling are used and innovations such as Artificial Intelligence are adopted.

Faithful+Gould recognise that investment in data centre facilities is unlikely to slow down and we are on hand to provide expert Project and Cost Management services to help organisations meet the demand for technological infrastructure.

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