JLL: Data Center Expansion Could ‘Soar’ in 2017

With data consumption skyrocketing, some major cloud providers anticipate the need to triple their data center infrastructure by 2020, reported JLL, Chicago.

“The data centers market is very fluid, but a few things are certain,” said JLL Data Center Solutions Co-Lead Bo Bond. “Cloud adoption is soaring, technology innovation will not slow down, data center portfolios are consolidating and rack densities are ascending rapidly.”

Bond said companies need to start their strategic planning “yesterday” if they want to stay ahead.

JLL said new technologies from the “big three” cloud providers Amazon, Google and Microsoft and the growth of internetworked devices sometimes called the Internet of Things are nudging more businesses to the cloud.

The new Trump Administration could create some uncertainty for the industry’s future, JLL noted. But anticipated energy cost and regulatory oversight reductions could potentially alleviate the costs of delivering more capacity.

Data center managers are also investigating the potential effect of new federal mandates for data centers, including energy metering and power usage effectiveness requirements that must be met by December 2018, JLL reported. Cost-saving and efficiency measures can add up for the data center industry, which consumed nearly 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014 alone.

Forbes magazine reported that one kilowatt-hour will keep one smartphone charged for a year. “To generate 70 billion kilowatt-hours you’d need power plants with a baseload capacity of 8,000 megawatts–equivalent to about eight big nuclear reactors,” the magazine said.

Meanwhile, stricter data sovereignty laws create complexities for the industry globally, JLL noted. For example, mandates for Canadian companies to store their data on Canadian soil could drastically change how much data moves to the Canadian cloud. And European data centers continue to grapple with the still-unknown impact of Brexit, which will not be fully realized until London’s data center industry is formally removed from the European Union in 2019.

JLL said mergers and acquisitions “surged” last year and predicted that trend will continue through 2017. “As well-known providers set their bidding sights on colocation companies, the race is beginning to fall to a few key players, such as Equinix and Digital Realty,” the report said.

JLL Data Center Solutions Market Director Jon Meisel said user demand for data centers will continue to heat up, with operators feeling the pressure to deliver more data faster and more flexibly than ever. “Smart maneuvering will be necessary for users and operators alike to flourish in the coming months,” he said.