If You Build It: The Rise Of The Mega Data Center

Big Changes Coming In Data Center Builds

The growth in the number of corporate data centers is about to end as businesses increasingly turn to co-location, managed services and other alternatives to even actually owning the real estate on which their data centers sit. Replacing them are mega data centers, which are continuing to grow in square footage as they provide space for a growing number of business tenants that no longer want their own data centers.

This shift in data centers is happening soon and will force solution providers that build IT infrastructures in data centers to develop expertise in working with third-party service providers.

Here’s where data centers are going over the next couple of years.

Data Center Numbers Peaking Soon

Research firm IDC in November estimated the total number of all types of data centers deployed will peak at 8.6 million worldwide by 2017, after which the number will start to slowly decline.

This includes the number of internal data center server rooms peaking in 2016, followed by a peak in internal server closets in 2017.

No Peak Seen In Data Center Space

While the number of data centers will peak in 2017, there appears to be no peak in the total square footage of data centers.

IDC estimated the amount of worldwide data center space will reach a total of 1.94 billion square feet in 2018. This compares to the total space of 1.58 billion square feet in 2013.

Richard Villars, vice president of data center and cloud research at IDC, wrote in the report that the majority of organizations will stop managing their own IT infrastructures over the next five years in favor of on-premise and hosted managed services.

"This will result in the consolidation and retirement of some existing internal data centers, particularly at the low end. At the same time, service providers will continue their race to build, remodel, and acquire data centers to meet the growing demand for capacity," Villars wrote.

The Move To Mega Data Centers

IDC defined mega data centers as the primary server location for large co-location and cloud service providers.

Construction of mega data centers is expected to account for 72.6 percent of all service provider data center construction by 2018, IDC reported.

They will account for 44.6 percent of all new high-end data space in 2018 compared to 19.3 percent in 2013, IDC estimated.

Retail Co-Location Spending To Rise

Synergy Research Group in November estimated that from 2012 to 2018 the annual retail co-location spend in the U.S. is expected to grow from less than $5 billion to more than $8 billion.

However, the annual growth rate will steadily decline over that period, the company estimated. Growth is expected to hit about 5 percent year over year from 2013 to 2018, compared to 13 percent between 2009 and 2013.

Enterprise Co-Location Use To Peak, But Total Growth To Continue

Synergy Research Group forecasts the enterprise sector of the U.S. retail co-location market will peak in 2017 and then start to decline, while the service provider sector of the market will continue to grow.

"One thing to bear in mind is that it is not just enterprises who buy co-lo services -- various types of service providers (IT, cloud, telco, content SPs) also buy co-lo services. In fact the SP sector within the retail co-lo market is quite a bit bigger than the enterprise sector and is growing a lot more strongly," John Dinsdale, chief analyst and managing director at Synergy Research Group, told CRN via email.