2010: Power Usage Drives Larger Scale

The power spine at the SuperNAP in Las Vegas.

We continue with 2010: Data Center Year in Review:

4. Power Usage Redefines Data Center Scale and Location

If cloud computing was the buzzword for 2009, powering the growing cloud became a key theme in 2010. Even as facilities became more efficient, the growing requirements for space from  Internet services and enterprise IT forced data center providers to rethink the scale of their operations. In some cases, that means building bigger facilities. in some cases, that means building campuses instead of single facilities. Those larger requirements continue to reshape the data center map, as power plays a leading role in where new facilities are built.

Data center builders are also looking at financial scalability and realizing that the economics of power make it cheaper to build a huge huge data center than one that is merely big. Some providers say the long-term outlook for data growth supports the need for mega-data centers and campuses.

"The data center has emerged as the engine of global corporate growth," said Anthony Wanger, President and co-founder of i/o Data Centers. "As every business process, element of media distribution and service delivery becomes digitized, we see corresponding and impressive growth in the demand for power.

"Our existing customers are growing at 30-plus percent per year, compounded, and we continue to attract many new and large customer accounts," said Wanger. "We see enterprises using as much power as the largest colo or hosting providers did a few years ago. Servers used to show up at our data centers shipped one or a few at a time – we now see tractor trailers with pallets full of servers."

In that environment, the key metric for construction costs is no longer the cost per square foot, but now the cost per megawatt. It's a number that will be a key focus for data center projects in 2011.

What other trends will shape the data center industry in 2011? Next week we'll look at what the experts foresee for the year ahead. To make sure you don't miss it, be sure to subscribe to our daily e-mail updates or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.