Pressing concerns and obligations revolving around sustainability mandates will likely shape how the industry tools up to meet surging compute demands.

What trends and opportunities can the data center industry expect in 2024?

It is the time of year for corporations to make their predictions, and according to Vertiv, four aspects will be worth watching.

According to the firm’s CEO, Giordano Albertazzi: “Finding ways to support the demand for AI and to also reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is a significant challenge requiring new collaborations between data centers, chip and server manufacturers, and infrastructure providers.”

Giordano Albertazzi, Chief Executive Officer, Emerson Network Power

Following are the related industry trends expected in 2024:

    1. Urgent sustainability policy dictates: Surging demand for AI capabilities is pressuring organizations to make significant changes to their operations. Legacy facilities are ill-equipped to support widespread implementation of the high-density computing required for AI, with many lacking the required infrastructure for liquid cooling. In the coming year, more and more organizations are going to realize that half-measures are insufficient, and will opt to rebuild using prefabricated modular solutions that shorten deployment timelines – or implement large-scale retrofits that fundamentally alter their power and cooling infrastructure.
    2. Energy storage alternatives: New energy storage technologies and approaches have shown the ability to intelligently integrate with the grid and deliver on a pressing objective — reducing generator starts. Battery energy storage systems support extended runtime demands by shifting the load as necessary, for longer durations, and can integrate seamlessly with alternative energy sources, such as solar or fuel cells. This minimizes generator use and reduces their environmental impact. These solution may eventually evolve to fit “bring your own power” models.
    3. Prioritization of investment flexibility: While cloud and colocation providers aggressively pursue new deployments to meet demand and regulations, organizations with enterprise data centers are likely to diversify investments and deployment strategies. Businesses may start to look to on-premises capacity to support proprietary AI, and edge application deployments may be impacted by AI tailwinds. Many organizations can be expected to prioritize incremental investments and also service and maintenance options that can extend the life of legacy equipment instead of resorting to replacing and scrapping them.
    4. The race to the cloud faces security hurdles: As cloud providers increase capacity to support demand for AI and high performance compute, and they will continue to turn to colocation partners around the world to enable that expansion. For cloud customers moving more and more data offsite, security is paramount. Disparate national and regional data security regulations may create complex security challenges as efforts to standardize continue — leading to an increased industry focus on strengthening cybersecurity.