There are now about 600 hyperscale data centers in the world – twice as many as there were five years ago, according to the latest tally by Synergy Research Group, which released its annual estimate Tuesday.
Despite some logistical issues caused by the pandemic, 52 of these facilities came online in 2020, John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy, said in a statement. Companies launched 59 hyperscale data centers in 2019, according to him.
Synergy is aware of 219 more such facilities either planned or already under construction, he added, “which is good news indeed for data center hardware vendors and wholesale data center operators.”
More than half of the world’s largest data centers are operated by just three companies, according to the market research firm: Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Amazon and Google accounted for half of new hyperscale facilities launched last year.
Oracle, Microsoft, Alibaba, and Facebook also added a lot of data center capacity in 2020, Synergy said.
The emergence of hyperscale cloud platforms over the last decade and a half transformed the data center industry, the tech giants’ laser focus on infrastructure optimization and scale accelerating innovation in the ways computing facilities and the IT gear inside are designed, managed, and powered.
The giants don't build all their data centers on their own. Most use a combination of their own facilities and facilities leased from specialist providers, such as Digital Realty, CyrusOne, KDDI, or 21Vianet. Some, like Oracle, rely mostly on leased space. Synergy estimates that about 70 percent of all hyperscale data centers are in leased facilities or facilities owned by the hyperscalers' partners.
Definitions of “hyperscale” vary from expert to expert. To some, the term means not just scale but also a certain approach to building and managing infrastructure, emphasizing stripped-down hardware, maximum disaggregation (components can be mixed and matched), modularity, automation, and other principles.
Synergy makes its estimates by analyzing the data center footprint of the world’s 20 “major cloud and internet service firms, including the largest operators in SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, search, social networking, e-commerce, and gaming.”
Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM have the broadest data center footprint, according to the analysts, each operating computing facilities in 60 or more locations with at least three in each of the four regions: North America, APAC, EMEA, and Latin America.
Oracle and Alibaba also have broad global data center presence. Others on the list are either American companies the majority of whose footprint is concentrated in the US, such as Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and eBay, or Chinese companies with most of their compute capacity located in China, such as Tencent, Baidu, and JD.com.