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The Number of Data Centres Could Decrease After 2017

At first the claim that the number of data centres in existence could decrease 2017 seems like an odd one. We always hear about how the amount of data being stored worldwide is increasing at an alarming rate. Not only are more devices around and connected, meaning there’s more quantity of data, but the size of it is also growing. A video file, for example, is now more likely to be in a high definition format, which takes up more space. So why would data centres decrease in number?

According to the analyst firm IDC, many businesses will begin using off-site facilities in the near future, rather than storing their own data on-site. Their forecast shows that data centres could peak in 2017 at 8.6 million and then decline after that.

However, while the amount of data centres overall will decrease, the size each one occupies will increase. This will apparently rise from 1.58 billion square feet in 2013 to 1.94 billion square feet in 2018. This is predicted because of the rise of mega data centres, capable of storing much more data than those which exist now.

Richard Villars, IDC’s Vice President for Datacenter and Cloud Research, said that enterprises will begin making use of on premise and hosted managed services for their existing IT assets. It is believed they will turn to dedicated and shared cloud offerings for any new services. This will then result in the consolidation and retirement of some internal data centres, most likely those at the lower end of capability.

IDC also predict that these mega data centres will account for 72.6 percent of all new floor space that service providers add by 2018. If that’s the case, mega data centres will occupy 44.6 percent of the space worldwide, compared to 19.3 percent in 2013.

However, it isn’t likely that every company will begin to use off-site data centres. While smaller companies may do so to save on cost and gain performance, those companies with the resources to create and maintain their own internal centres will likely to continue to do so. This allows them greater control over what they’re storing and how they store it.

“For many companies, the data centre is an enabler rather than a central component of their business,” said Jeff Clark, editor of the Data Center Journal, in a discussion with CIO Today. “So, by outsourcing it to a provider that specializes in this area, they can invest more time and energy on their core products and services. In addition, because an in-house data centre can be so expensive to build, outsourcing reduces or eliminates capital expenses and thus eases the immediate financial burden.”

Clark noted that the trend seems to be heading towards centralising IT resources into a number of smaller providers, rather than a great number within the industry. As it’s an expensive industry the number of providers will probably always be relatively low, but Clark couldn’t predict whether that would change over the next few years.

“Brewing macroeconomic factors may come into play; for instance, there's a sense among many market watchers that the technology sector is currently a bubble. As these factors and technical matters like the winding down of Moore's Law intersect, the outcome could be something entirely unexpected,” he said.

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