Green is the color of the data center trends in 2022

This handout picture courtesy of OVHcloud shows the inside of the data center owned by French web provider OVHcloud, taken on February 9, 2017, in Beauharnois, near Montreal, Quebec. – With vast amounts of cheap and renewable electricity mostly generated from hydro dams, Quebec is seeing more and more tech giants setting up power-hungry data centres in the Canadian province. With demand for cloud services soaring, fifty data centers now operate in Quebec, up from 39 just two years ago. Green is the color of the data center trends in 2022. Source: AFP

2022: Green is the color of data centers

  • Data center operators and suppliers will be more active in pursuing strategies that can make a real difference in addressing the climate crisis.
  • Lithium battery recycling infrastructure is expected to expand in 2022, eliminating one of the few remaining barriers to widespread adoption of lithium-ion batteries in the data centers.

In 2020 alone, some 1.7mb of data was created every second by every person. To top it off, a whopping 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone. In short, energy use by data centers and IT will only continue to rise–ultimately speeding up the development of green data centers.

Vertiv, a global provider of digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, in its recently released annual list of the key data center trends to watch in 2022, also emphasized on a dramatic acceleration in actions to address sustainability and navigate the climate crisis. “As we move into 2022, data center operators and suppliers will actively pursue strategies that can make a real difference in addressing the climate crisis,” Vertiv CEO Rob Johnson said.

Now, as we near the new year, we look at possible data center trends we may see in 2022 and beyond, as highlighted by experts.

Green data centers: tackling sustainability and the climate crisis

According to Vertiv, the data center industry has taken steps toward more climate-friendly practices in recent years, but operators will join the climate effort more purposefully in 2022. On the operational front, Vertiv experts predict some organizations will embrace sustainable energy strategies that utilize a digital solution that matches energy use with 100% renewable energy and ultimately operates on 24/7 sustainable energy. 

“Such hybrid distributed energy systems can provide both AC and DC power, which adds options to improve efficiencies and eventually allows data centers to operate carbon-free. Fuel cells, renewable assets, and long-duration energy storage systems, including battery energy storage systems (BESS) and lithium-ion batteries*,all will play a vital role in providing sustainable, resilient, and reliable outcomes,” the report added. 

On lithium-ion batteries, Vertiv experts expect the lithium battery recycling infrastructure to expand in 2022 and eliminate one of the few remaining barriers to widespread adoption of lithium-ion batteries in the data center. In a more immediate term, extreme weather events related to climate change will influence decisions around where and how to build new data centers and telecommunications networks, Vertic predicts. 

“Other factors, including the reliability and affordability of the grid, regional temperatures, availability of water and renewable and locally generated sustainable energy, and regulations that ration utility power and limit the amount of power afforded to data centers, play a part in the decision-making as well,” it added.

Artificial Intelligences in data centers gets real

The need for real-time computing and decision-making are becoming more critical, given how today’s networks get more complex and more distributed. To top it off, the augmented and virtual reality demands of the metaverse too are becoming more prominent. 

“This real-time need is sensitive to latencies, and under the increasingly common hybrid model of enterprise, public and private clouds, colocation, and edge, full-time manual management is impractical, if not impossible,” the report states.

That said, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be critical to optimizing the performance of these networks, Vertiv said. “It will take focus and time to collect the right data, build the right models, and train the network platform to make the right decisions. 

Even smaller companies are embracing AI, according to the report, given the availability of AI hardware from established vendors, cloud options for the same, a simplified toolchain, and an educational focus on data science. “It all adds up to accelerated AI adoption in 2022,” Vertiv noted.

The post-pandemic data center will take stage

According to Vertiv’s data, some 2.9 gigawatts worth of new data center construction is underway globally. “Those data centers will be the first built specifically to meet the needs of a post-COVID world. More activity will be focused at the edge, where VMware projects a dramatic shift in workload distribution – from 5% currently to 30% over the next five years,” it added.

While availability will remain the top priority, even at the edge, Vertiv noted that lower latency is a rising need to support healthy buildings, smart cities, distributed energy resources, and 5G. “[Overall]2022 will see increased investment in the edge to support this new normal (remote work, increased reliance on ecommerce and telehealth, video streaming) and the continuing rollout of 5G,” it concluded.