Top 10 Data Center Predictions for 2015

JE Dunn

DBIA, LEED AP BD+C, leads the Mission Critical Market for at JE Dunn Construction.

With the arrival of a new year, organizations are making plans to address the explosion of enterprise data in 2015. A big question is how those plans will differ from your data center operations this past year.

In 2014, mission critical innovation drove new standards in PUE reduction, water use and digital service efficiency.

Pressing data center operator concerns include security, operational expense management and Internet of Things (IOT) growth. Everyone seems to be balancing big data, cloud and SDN initiatives. And with shadow IT coming to light, you have more internal influencers with input on your data center operations.

So what does this mean for 2015? I forecast a year of incremental adaptation vs. radical change as industry buzz gives way to genuine innovation and proven methodologies. As much as some things will change, others will frustratingly stay the same.

Predictions for the Year Ahead

Cloud Won’t Doom Data Centers

The impending doom of the data center industry has been greatly exaggerated. A few bright minds have shared their thoughts that the cloud is quickly taking over the delivery of IT services and our future offering data center services is bleak.

As much as cloud is gaining momentum, FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) alone will prevent a seismic shift away from traditional data center services. An optimized hybrid model of both is much more likely.

Warmer Data Centers

Temperatures in the data center will inch higher, but not substantially overall. Large and enlightened enterprises and Web giants will continue to push the allowable temperature and humidity ranges offered by ASHRAE, but the average enterprise and colocation operator will largely operate the same.


Unfortunately, the colocation market is competitive and must cater to those soliciting their services. Until enterprises change their operating parameters, energy will continue to be wasted by operating at temperatures far lower than necessary.

TCO Doesn’t Drive Design

Total Cost of Ownership will continue to be ignored by most of the industry. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) has been talked about by many, but few are really using it as a decision making tool. Many data center developers and operators are still using the short-sighted approach driven by CapEx. Regardless of the projected lifespan of your data center, TCO is still the best way to optimize your decisions.

Data Center Services Commoditization

Commoditization of data center services will continue and accelerate. The colocation market has become increasingly price-driven. Modular designs have made smarter use of CapEx allowing operators to offer a lower price point when placed in a competitive situation. This will continue and possibly accelerate due to the efforts of the largest in the industry.

Flat Data Center Density

Data center densities will remain flat for the most part. Several studies have shown that average power densities remain far below what is possible with current IT technology. Although pockets of higher density cabinets will exist, overall densities will remain low.

Greenpeace Influences Data Center Decisions

Greenpeace will continue their ‘name and shame’ campaign and will update their naughty and nice list of data center and cloud operators based upon their use of renewable energy. In 2014, they introduced a new wrinkle by naming a few of the largest colocation providers. Additional names will be added in 2015, but the question is whether or not it will have an impact on this very competitive branch of the industry.

Server Huggers Drive Demand

Server huggers will continue to drive business in the locations where they live in greatest numbers.


This will ensure that the large markets remain that way, but also that smaller markets will remain relevant. Markets like Omaha, Kansas City, and others will continue to thrive.

Renewable Energy: More Talk than Action

Discussion of renewable energy use in data centers will continue with little action. The Web giants will continue to invest in renewable energy, but others will stay on the sideline for the most part. Until the industry bands together to affect change, renewable energy will not reach grid parity, which will prohibit it from being used in a competitive market.

Transactive Energy Management Gains Traction

On-site power production, dispatchable power, and other forms of transactive energy management will become more accepted. The risks and rewards will be weighed, mitigated, and accepted.

Green Fatigue Grows

Green fatigue will reach record levels in 2015. Although I am a big proponent of sustainability, do we really need another conference panel focused on greening the data center? Let’s focus on the business case and let the numbers fall where they may.


Your Thoughts on 2015 Data Center Trends

What are your thoughts on these topics? And what other data center predictions do you have for the year ahead? Share your comments here to continue a healthy debate and industry discussion in shaping the future of data centers.

Image credits:, CRN, VentureBeat

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  1. TCO is a very good criteria to look at. Most SMBs do not include cost of innovation (providing infra) to innovators, because innovation really doesnt happen often at SMB. With Cloud they could be in the forefront of innovation.

  2. Jim Leach

    Great insights, Ron!