Jonathan King is Group Chief Operating Officer & Head of Investments for STT GDC.
According to PwC, the data center market in Asia Pacific is booming and looks set to overtake Europe by 2021. Rapid adoption of cloud services across Asia Pacific is driving the demand for more hyperscale data centers, positioning Asia’s data center market for further exponential growth.
While this trend toward hyperscale is a favorable moment for data center operators to leapfrog their business to the next level, it also brings with it a unique set of challenges that operators need to overcome. As the industry undergoes a sea change, operators also need to look into how they can leverage on smart, innovative technologies to transform their operations and offer greater value to their clients.
Drivers of Growth
Key factors driving growth of the hyperscale sector are increased internet penetration and digital transformation for businesses. Smartphone penetration rates across Asia are expected to grow from 43 percent to 66 percent between 2015 and 2020, and broadband connections from 33 percent to 38 percent in the same period. As consumers adopt a more digitally connected lifestyle and consume richer content such as video streaming, data consumption in Asia Pacific is expected to grow. Businesses are also adopting data-intensive applications such as IoT, data analytics, artificial intelligence – all of which contribute to an explosive amount of data being generated and exchanged.
Furthermore, regulatory requirements such as Indonesia’s Government Regulation 82 (GR82) and similar legislation in various countries, stipulate that companies must store sensitive personal data in domestic data centers. This then drives the trend for more localized data centers in each economy. With technologies such as 5G mobile networks, autonomous vehicles and blockchain becoming more common in the near future, data center demand is likely to push even higher.
Re-designing to Suit the Demands of Hyperscale
Hyperscale centers are in many ways different from traditional data centers. The hyperscale model works with hundreds of individual servers that are made to operate together via a high-speed network. They need scalable infrastructure for computing tasks to ensure efficient performance. Campus solutions are critical in achieving this, so data center operators will need to plan and cluster their facilities together. Moreover, multiple compute and storage nodes will be needed within a given market to provide resiliency for end users. Campus solutions and greater number of Availability Zones will be able to satisfy these requirements.
The sheer amount of servers in a hyperscale facility also presents unique challenges to the building design, cooling system, power distribution and the data network supporting this infrastructure. Data center operators need to work closely with customers from the very beginning in designing hyperscale facilities to suit their unique specifications. As an example, the huge amount of data being exchanged in hyperscale facilities would require an extremely large data network bandwidth to ensure low latency. One way operators can overcome this would be to take advantage of multiple connectivity options - private/public peering exchange points, cloud connectivity solutions and traditional WAN solutions to improve traffic routing performance and lower interconnectivity costs, while ensuring low latency.
Planning for Growth in Emerging Markets
Data center operators also need to keep in mind that the operating environment and market demands differ strongly in the various economies across Asia Pacific. Mature markets like Singapore, Japan and Australia are already catching on to hyperscale data centers. However, emerging markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam are still in the preliminary stages of planning infrastructure improvements to support the operation of hyperscale data centers. In addition, the demand for hyperscale solutions in emerging markets is still in the nascent phase whereby operators are just starting to explore their options. The challenge for data center operators is balancing future capacity needs with the realities of an investment plan.
Building Smarter, More Efficient Data Centers
Demand for hyperscale data centers continues to surge as technological advancements drive enterprises to rely more on cloud. Emerging technologies in turn also offer opportunity for innovation as data center operators increase efficiencies and enhance security to effectively support customers.
For example, IoT and data analytics can be used to better monitor and analyze power utility usage, cooling system efficiency, and even preemptive maintenance on building infrastructure. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can further automate certain routine work processes in the facility. In terms of security, 24/7 surveillance with video analytics can be used to keep the building secure.
There is no doubt that the hyperscale data center market is ripe for greater evolution and growth in the Asia Pacific region and operators are increasingly nurturing specialized expertise to address its unique requirements. Future success of hyperscale builds will come from continued innovation to achieve the efficiency, reliability and scale needed to keep step with customer needs.
Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.
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