Data centre pros look to power system upgrades in 2021

29th January 2021
Lanna Deamer

ABB Power Conversion has issued a new data report, 'Data Overload: Powering Data Centres in the New Normal' that explores the unprecedented demand on data centres in 2020 as well as long term impacts that will shape data centre operations for years to come.

Not surprisingly, 96% of data centre professionals surveyed reported that demand on their data centre increased in 2020, which could indicate why 53% of those surveyed are likely to consider power system upgrades to meet increased demand in the future.

“The impact of COVID-19 fundamentally accelerated the concept of mission critical. Overnight, businesses became even more reliant on the cloud to enable operations, processes and remote collaboration. This immediate transition would not have been possible without data centres backed by efficient and reliable power systems,” said Jeff Schnitzer, president, ABB Power Conversion.

“Power is the ultimate enabler. Not only for rapidly scaling data centre operations to meet exponential demand, but for energising the on-going digital transformation that’s the beating heart of technology and smart societies of the future. And data centre power architectures are core components of this.”

Addressing increased demand: top considerations and concerns for data centre operators

If there’s one known for the data centre industry, it’s that demand will only continue to increase in a market that was already growing exponentially before the pandemic. However, ABB’s survey found that data centre professionals are mixed in terms of how they plan to respond and address demand in the future:

  • More than half (53%) of data centre professionals surveyed are likely to consider power system upgrades.
  • 49% are likely to consider building new data centre space to meet increased demands in the future.
  • A quarter of respondents are unlikely to build new space while 49% are likely to consider maximising their current space to increase density.

Regardless of how operators address ever-increasing demand, the continued reliance on the cloud to power businesses, the rise of cloud-based business platforms and the growth of enterprise cloud hyperscalers - above and beyond the impacts of COVID-19 - are resulting in warranted concerns for data centre professionals.

Among them, it’s not surprising to find that services and maintenance was specified as the leading concern at 34%, followed by power usage (32%) and scalability (30%).

In an era where remote business continuity is reliant on data centre up-time, managing data centre power systems and having the capacity to scale-up the power architecture through system upgrades or greenfield builds are critical factors to meet increased demand. And having a trusted, reliable 24/7 services team in place to help manage data centre power systems is essential.

Powering Data Centres of the Future

Now more than ever, data centre operators must reimagine and reprioritise the power architectures at the heart of their facilities as a main factor for scale. According to ABB’s report, more than half (52%) of survey respondents are likely to consider direct current (DC) power architectures as right-fit upgrades to supplement existing power systems if they are upgrading or were to upgrade their data centre’s power system. 

Unlike a centralised Alternating Current (AC) UPS architecture, a distributed DC power architecture is scalable at the cabinet level, allowing power capacity to be purchased and added, as well as allowing power levels to be adjusted, with each cabinet as needed throughout its life cycle.

“A distributed DC power architecture is designed to scale, which is precisely what’s needed in a world where rapid, unexpected spikes in data and customer demand is the new norm,” added Vito Savino, Wireline and Data Centre Segment Leader, ABB Power Conversion.

“And having a trusted team in place that knows and understands the nuances and criticality of data centre power can help put minds at ease in 2021 and beyond as demand continues to balloon - especially with the rollout of 5G and the interconnectivity it enables.”

For more insights on data centre demand in 2020 and key areas of opportunity to optimise how data centres are powered, 'Data Overload: Powering Data Centres in the New Normal'.

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