Emerging Data Centre Trends

Paul Johnson
The data centre sector remains highly active and market growth continues in Southeast Asia.

Data centres are now being driven by a mix of global and regional trends. Mobile, video, big data, content streaming and social media have added considerably to the sector’s needs. Demand has traditionally been led by two groups of clients: owner-occupiers such as financial institutions, and service providers who take space in co-location facilities.

The build versus lease decision is a complex one, but there is a steady shift towards the leased co-location model. Building an in-house storage infrastructure represents a substantial capital spend, whereas leasing moves most of the expenditure to the operational budget.

The build versus lease decision is a complex one, but there is a steady shift towards the leased co-location model.

Faced with increasing city centre costs, both leased and owner-occupied data centres are moving out of constrained city spaces, locating at some distance from corporate offices. Site selection factors include political stability, geographical and geophysical location, the need for high-bandwidth network links, reliable and affordable power supply, data security and physical security.

Land is now limited in Singapore and Hong Kong, opening up opportunities elsewhere in the region. Neighbouring countries remain keen to acquire the digital infrastructure that will attract inward investment. Their domestic needs will also have an influence – internet use continues to mature in China and India, with significant growth potential in countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The public sector is playing an important part in some south-east Asia locations. Malaysia is driving data centre growth in the Iskandar development region, under the guidance of the government’s Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC). Singapore also has a government led initiative, the Singapore Data Centre Park that seeks to create a digital hub for the region.

These facilities have always had relatively short lifecycles and this is set to become even shorter, with the demands of modern high-density computing platforms. Companies are looking to future-proof as much as possible. Data centre evolution will inevitably be changed by the rise of cloud technology, which potentially provides businesses with a more agile infrastructure.

Data centres are not expected to vanish, however, but the shape of the industry is likely to change, driven by the needs of corporate clients and by the data centres maintained by the cloud providers themselves. Two trends are emerging: large facilities that achieve scale, efficiency in power and cooling, and smaller facilities not requiring high levels of data analytics. Hybrid solutions are becoming commonplace, with companies using the cloud for less confidential data and the traditional data centre for business-critical applications.

Two trends are emerging: large facilities that achieve scale, efficiency in power and cooling, and smaller facilities not requiring high levels of data analytics.

The buildings themselves are relatively simple, but the services installations are complex, with significant buildability and maintenance issues. Most providers in the region are aiming for Tier 3 or 4 levels of resilience on the Uptime Institute specification scale.

Sustainability issues remain a challenge for these buildings, where the focus has been on the priority requirements for performance and security, against a background of heavy power and cooling requirements. The agenda is slowly changing and LEED, Green Mark and similar accreditations are being achieved.

Innovations include advanced building management and control systems that optimise energy saving measures, such as night-time cooling, thermal energy storage, heat recovery strategies and control of the IT environment according to demand. Faithful+Gould leads a wide variety of projects in the highly specialised data centre market, working with developers, financial institutions, government bodies and telecoms organisations.

We provide project management, cost management and sustainable certification advisory services on these projects. Our services typically encompass due diligence, strategic advice at inception, construction management and testing and commissioning. Key to our services is a detailed understanding of data centre clients’ needs, coupled with a sound knowledge of local building codes and construction practices. Our client portfolio includes Equinix, Pacnet and other major data centre providers.

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