2021 has been a year where businesses have been working hard to recover from the effects of the pandemic, such as the loss of revenue and adopting to mass remote and hybrid working.
The impact was immense, but as the confidence has started to return in the UK, going forward many are now starting to think more strategically about how to reassess their priorities, how they will evolve their business models, and operationally how they will deliver goods and services to their customers.
It has been a tumultuous time for IT departments throughout the pandemic, with many having to frantically introduce or expand technologies to support staff, as well as adapt service offerings to account for the way business had to operate when the could re-open.
The data centre now needs to evolve to meet the new business and IT challenges of each company going forward. IT staff and data centre managers are already starting to consider what that means for the budgeted projects that were put on hold and the new projects that must be planned for. Whilst those needs will be very specific to each business, there are some trends that will be relevant to data centres across the land, whatever sector they operate in. So here is a whistle-stop tour of some of the trends that I believe will be dominant across 2022.
The COP26 conference has been across the news for months and whilst nobody can be sure how successful each nation will be in achieving its net-zero goals, the data centre sector will continue to be as committed as ever. Huge strides will continue to be made around energy efficiency, responsible cooling, and of course green energy is becoming more widely available for those wanting to buy more responsibly.
It is important to consider other areas such as e-waste too, ensuring products are recycled securely where possible, as well as buying from those that embrace responsible manufacturing, with policies that reflect ensuring appropriate working conditions and pay for staff.
Sustainability in all its forms has become a critical issue in the board room, as well as for investors and customers alike, and this will only grow in 2022. That doesn’t just mean the data centre needs to be energy efficient, everybody in the IT supply chain from connectivity suppliers, to cloud services and hardware providers, needs to be selected with sustainability in mind for any data centre to be doing everything it can to support sustainability.
Remote data centre management
The pandemic forced data centre managers to quickly find a way to allow employees to work remotely and access all the resources they needed. For many that meant cutting a few corners in the interests of speed. Whilst most data centre teams will have had in place some kind of remote access and monitoring for their infrastructure, we certainly are aware of some that needed to be quite creative to get the remote services working that they required. 2022 will definitely see a period of reflection and consolidation, where data centre teams look to ensure they have the level of remote management tools in place that give them flexibility, resilience and ultimately security of the data centre.
Expect to see some restrictions imposed too around the use of collaboration tools. Where during the pandemic, staff may have been given more freedom so they ‘could get the job done’ while working remotely, 2022 will see application configurations tied back down to whatever is deemed to be an updated ‘standard’ application environment to support hybrid working.
Form factor confidence
If the trend we have seen emerge across 2021 is anything to go by, then in 2022, more data centre managers will be considering new form factors when they need to extend their data centre capacity or replace existing infrastructure. Approaches such as containerised data centres allow new resources to be rapidly deployed, and even constructed off-site, with no compromise on equipment, security or performance. Equally, micro data centres offer a way to extend data centre resources to new locations, perhaps at the edge of the network, where building a new data centre may be overkill, or impossible because of space, planning, or budget restrictions.
When it comes to connecting data centres together, there has been a lot of talk in recent years about the benefits of Software Defined Wide Area Networks or (SD-WAN). Whilst this technology certainly has its benefits, we are actually seeing customers wanting to keep more control over that connectivity. One way of doing that is through age old, simple and trusted Ethernet technology. Carriers are now offering a host of ethernet services that are making it very easy to get connected onto some of the fastest networks across the globe, bringing your data centre closer to the services you need and the customers you need to serve, whilst avoiding the public internet, between those service points. As edge data centres and distributed networking, even within organisational networks, continues to grow with the use of technologies such as the Internet of Things, we’ll expect this renaissance (of sorts) around Ethernet connectivity to grow in 2022.
2022 – IT departments back in their stride
The pandemic may be far from over, but business is getting back on its feet and looking forward. 2022 will be a year where IT departments start to focus their creativity and tenacity on delivery for their business’s future strategic needs. Nobody likes to feel on the back foot, and through grit and determination, IT departments have proven they are still in the race. Now it is time to take confidence from the last 18 months and stride confidently onward.