The State of the Data Center: How Much Can Change in Just a Few Months?

by Bill Kleyman

It’s still 2020 … even though the past few months have felt like a decade.

I recall presenting the State of the Data Center findings during the March keynote address. We covered a lot of fascinating findings including metrics around cloud, edge, and even the future workforce. We saw that organizations across the world were investing massive amounts of their budgets into deploying smarter, data-driven, solutions. Everything from AI-driven chatbots, to sentiment analysis for market research is being leveraged to create competitive advantages.

Then, COVID-19 happened. And a lot of things changed for people, jobs, and entire technology ecosystems. We quickly saw that the foundation of what we use every single day, this digital infrastructure, was more important than ever before. And, due to the pandemic, was under even more strain. 

Could networks keep up? Were we saturating our pipes and bandwidth? How was all of this impacting the digital infrastructure we are using every single day? Back in March, a  CNET article pointed out that in a week-over-week comparison, Verizon said voice usage between March 12 and March 19 on its network was up 25%. And total web traffic grew 22%. The company said week-over-week usage patterns showed demand for streaming video services, like Netflix and Amazon, have increased.

To better support this increased traffic, Netflix and Amazon Prime agreed to a European Union request that streaming services switch from high definition to standard in an effort to reduce the strain on the internet, as previously reported by CNN and the Guardian. Apple is doing the same with Apple TV+, as reported earlier by 9to5Mac, as is Google-owned YouTube.

Facebook recently did the same thing with Facebook Live videos, which it says are seeing record traffic. In fact, the social network said in a blog post that “usage growth from Covid-19 is unprecedented across the industry” and that it’s “experiencing new records in usage almost every day.” This has apparently left Mark Zuckerberg feeling trepidatious.

“It really is a big technical challenge,” Zuckerberg told the New York Times. “We’re basically trying to ready everything we can.”

AFCOM State of the Data Center Findings: The Pandemic Update

After the release of the AFCOM report, we wanted to dive deeper to learn how this pandemic and today’s climate has impacted the leaders of the data center and technology space. When we sent out the follow up survey with a few additional questions, we weren’t disappointed and received even more responses than we expected. 

In the upcoming virtual Data Center World conference, you’ll hear more about these trends and what leaders in our space are doing to support more remote workers and a critical digital infrastructure. Some of the new, interesting findings include:

The Shift in the Data Center Workforce. We saw quickly that there are a lot of newly remote workers out there. But how permanent is this? What about in the data center space? We found that more than half of our respondents indicated that these remote workers, may well become permanently remote as their production and value to the company have actually increased. We’ll cover this more during the Data Center World keynote.

The Pace of Hiring is Changing. And, it’s changing in a good direction. Not only have data center, cloud, and technology leaders not slowed down their hiring, it’s actually picked up pace. That’s right, to meet the demands of a massively digital society, data center and technology leaders are looking to hire even more people. We’ll touch on what that means to you and how to work with a new generation of workers during the DCW conference.

Data Center Growth. “We’re not taking our foot off the pedal” seems to be a more common conversation point than you’d think. Then again, maybe you’re not that surprised. Several statistical points indicate growth in the data center space when it comes to building, renovating, and more. 

Other interesting findings involve the even further use of automation, changes in rules and policies due to COVID-19, and how adoption of cloud is being impacted. 

Working Through the Unknowns

I’ve been asked to predict what the next few months will look like. As you can only imagine, your guess may very well be just as good as mine. In conducting this additional research, we were able to see how the pandemic impacted our most core systems, and all of the people supporting this infrastructure. 

We learned how critical it is in nature, and what organizations are doing to better prepare their digital ecosystems for the future. One big thing we did learn is that a lot of these leaders are doing this as a community. That is, reaching out to others, finding new partnerships, exploring new technologies, and even investing more into sustainable infrastructure. The net positive here is that the data center and technology community is finding more of a balance in how they leverage advanced technologies to do great things for society. 

In the upcoming Data Center World conference, we’ll take the time to explore these topics, and as a community, learn how we can positively continue to impact the world. 

Bill Kleyman will present his keynote, “State of the Data Center Report - 2020 Vision" on Monday, Aug. 24 from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. (EST). There's still time to register for Data Center World!