Experts at Vertiv predict: Data centers will be as important as water, heating and electricity in 2021

Accelerated digitization and the increasing importance of edge computing are just some of the key developments in the field of digital ecosystems

Munich [December 15, 2020] – The “overnight” digitalization in the context of the pandemic has shown how enormously important data centers are and how much we depend on them in almost all areas of life. In 2021, this will become even more important, because data centers and the information ecosystem that surrounds them will, at the latest as a result of the pandemic, take on the same importance as water, electricity and heating – but with the same expectations and responsibilities attached to them. That’s just one of the data center developments identified by experts at Vertiv (NYSE: VRT), global provider of critical IT infrastructure and continuity solutions.

High standards have always been set for data centers, but this parity with other basic utilities will be felt in two ways. First, the high expectations for network availability will extend to rural and remote areas. This will give even larger segments of the population access to critical applications – but will increase the pressure on data centers to maintain connectivity at the far edges of the network. Second, all distinctions between availability and connectivity will disappear. Because the ability to secure and protect connections across increasingly branched hybrid networks is becoming as essential as traditional data center availability measurement.

“Data centers have been on the path to being mentioned in the same breath as public utility providers for some time. But the pandemic has shown that it’s time to implement guidelines that have long been commonplace among utility providers,” says Gary Niederpruem, chief strategy and development officer at Vertiv. “This is not solely about working from a home office, although that is part of it. Much more important is supporting the essential areas of the digital economy. This includes a growing need for telemedicine and digital health services, expanded online shopping, and global telecommunications and mass media.”

The pandemic has effectively created a new foundation for digital infrastructure as the industry adjusts to and eventually overcomes the global shutdown. With this in mind, Vertiv experts have identified numerous other trends to watch in 2021:

  • Digitization with an afterburner: COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the workforce and IT ecosystem that supports the new work-from-home model. Vertiv experts expect pandemic-related investments in IT infrastructure to continue and even grow, which in turn will bring more secure, reliable and efficient remote work capabilities. Visibility and management despite home office will become essential for the success of corresponding models.
    For example, there are already options for remote services to minimize the need for on-site support. This will also prevail in the post-pandemic period. At the same time, even the most cautious efforts from the early days of the pandemic will be accelerated as the global crisis situation extends into 2021. Companies will embrace these changes – not as a short-term change, but as a permanent adjustment to the way we work and do business. Over time, what we do face to face and what we do remotely will also change. This change is driven by customers who want to reduce their on-site presence. This increases the need for connectivity, remote monitoring, data analytics and even artificial intelligence in decision making.
    “For a recovery to occur, the mindset of most companies must change,” John-David Lovelock, Distinguished Research Vice President at Gartner, said recently. “There is no rowing back. It must be clear that the only way forward is forward.”
  • Bringing large data center functions into small spaces and to the edge: Today, edge is simultaneously more critical and more complex than ever before. Because functionally, it’s an extension of the data center and not a better server closet like it used to be. Cost and complexity have long prevented the implementation of data center best practices in these areas, but that is now changing. Vertiv experts expect more efforts to bring hyperscale and other capabilities from large enterprises to the edge. This includes better insight and control, more focus on availability and thermal management, and more attention to system-wide energy efficiency.
    “Wherever there is high density computing, there will be demand for edge computing. Demand at this scale requires a more resilient and intelligent edge infrastructure,” said Giordano Albertazzi, president of Vertiv in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). “We are seeing an expansion of edge computing in many countries, which will eventually extend to emerging markets. Edge deployment is also closely tied to other important trends such as 5G and environmental sustainability, and the integration of edge sites with energy grids can support the transition to renewable energy.”
  • Focus shifts to power consumption and efficiency in 5G: In this early phase of 5G planning and deployment, the discussion has rightly focused on the benefits of the technology – higher bandwidth and lower latency – and the applications it will enable. However, as many countries begin rolling out 5G in 2021, the focus will shift to the significant energy consumption increases from 5G and strategies for more efficient and effective deployment. The network densification required to fully exploit the potential of 5G will inevitably lead to an increase in energy demand, estimated at 3.5 times that of 4G. For the coming year, greater emphasis will be placed on managing this significant increase in energy consumption, which will require research into more efficient products and processes.
  • Sustainability comes into focus: 5G is one part of a larger sustainability strategy. As the proliferation of data centers continues and even accelerates, particularly at the hyperscale, cloud computing and colocation providers must focus more on their energy and water consumption. More intense conversations about climate change and shifting circumstances at the policy level in the United States and around the world will only intensify the focus on the data center industry, which is responsible for about 1% of global energy consumption. The coming year will see a wave of innovation focused on energy efficiency across the data center ecosystem. The benefits for data center operators are clear: cost savings, compliance with existing and anticipated regulations, and a willingness to take a leadership role in the global sustainability movement. Important innovations are expected in the entire field of data center infrastructure and especially in the field of thermal management.

For more information on 2021 industry trends and Vertiv’s complete portfolio of data center and communications network solutions, visit https://www.vertiv.com/de-emea/about/news-and-insights/articles/pr-campaigns-reports/vertiv-2021-trends/.

About Vertiv

Vertiv (NYSE: VRT) brings together hardware, software, analytics and services to keep customers’ applications running continuously, performing optimally and evolving with business needs. As Architects of Continuity,™ Vertiv solves the key challenges facing data centers, communications networks, and commercial and industrial facilities with its portfolio of power, cooling, and IT infrastructure solutions and services covering networks from cloud to edge computing. The company’s headquarters are located in Columbus, Ohio, in the USA. 20,000 employees work for Vertiv in more than 130 countries worldwide. For more information and the latest news and content from Vertiv, please visit https://www.vertiv.com/de-emea/about/news-and-insights.

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