What will future data centers look like?

What will future data centers look like?

May 20, 2015


The data center is the foundation on which a whole host of modern enterprise infrastructures are built. While they may appear to be relatively rudimentary assets, many are now as innovative, complex and forward-thinking as the solutions they support.

For example, there are few quite as striking as the Bahnhof data center in Sweden. Utilising an old nuclear bunker, the facility looks more fit for a Bond villain than it does reams of information. The vast and impressive interior of the complex can be seen in this admiring tweet from BHDP Architecture:

Furthermore, there are people looking to take the data center and make it more usable and functional, but in an incredibly compact space. Researchers at Purdue University needed a place to house much of its network and its experimental Carter cluster.

The answer? A refitted shipping container which is locked, alarmed and even temperature controlled.

So, while there are a number of big and small innovations going on, what will the data center of the future really look like?

Enterprises will have to manage 10 times more servers by 2020, and those will hold 50 times more information.

Well, in terms of physical architecture, the possibilities are endless. When it comes to how the facilities will actually support and house information, there are a few standards that will likely be followed.

Improved power efficiency and cooling

While more data centers are 'going green', their effectiveness is still reliant on a huge amount of power. Consequently, any solution which can reduce energy consumption will be extremely valuable. To that end, cooling - and how it can be carried out more efficiently - will be key.

As reported by Computerworld, a new type of liquid cooling that turns server racks on their side could eventually become the widely accepted norm. The method involves taking the horizontal racks and submerging them in an innovative substance consisting of non-toxic mineral oil.

This coolant not only costs less than its equivalents, but is also non-conductive, unlike water. Furthermore, the fact the racks are rotated through 90 degrees keeps cable management and equipment access simple, making the lives of database administrators that little bit easier too.

The 'no wait' data center

Better data transmission will also enhance future facilities. For example, experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on a system which centralizes communication protocols within the network, autonomously prioritizing which nodes should receive transmissions at the most optimum time.

MIT research claims that the innovation can transmit data at a speed of 2.2 terabits per second - the equivalent of a 2,000-server data center with gigabit per second connections transmitting at full capacity.

While any predictions are based on a little guess work, it appears highly likely that the data center of tomorrow will have more than an eye on speeding up data transmission - and processes in general.

Oracle's next generation data center

For Oracle customers deploying their primary clusters and standby databases across company solutions, the future may be a little closer than first thought. While the data center in general is getting more complex, Oracle is working on ways to make its offerings more simple for the end user.

According to research from the company, enterprises will have to manage 10 times more servers by 2020, and those will hold 50 times more information. More on the applicable statistics and Oracle's stance on the data center of today - and tomorrow - can be seen in this video:

While the importance of information to enterprises continues to accelerate, guessing what the data center of the future will look like is tricky. However, one thing will remain certain: organisations will need more storage for data and increased computing power to make the most of it.

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