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Edge rapidly extends influence on data center industry

Modern data centers have undergone rapid migration to the edge – a trend that barely registered in forecasts from as little as five years ago.

Vertiv's Data Center 2025: Closer to the Edge update indicates that industry leaders are now thinking differently about the data center – and the migration to the edge is a key driving factor in that change.

In Vertiv's 2014 study, edge was highlighted as a growing trend, however it was only mentioned four times throughout the report. This was because the industry was focused on hybrid architectures that leveraged cloud, enterprise, and colocation resources.

Just five years later, the survey shows a fundamental shift towards edge. They are also tackling a broad data center ecosystem that comprises many facilities and relies on the network edge.

From the survey participants that currently use edge sites or plan to use them by 2025, 53% expect edge sites to increase by 100%, while 20% expect a 400% or more increase.

“In just five short years, we have seen the emergence of an entirely new segment of the ecosystem, driven by the need to locate computing closer to the user,” says Vertiv CEO Rob Johnson.

“This new distributed network is reliant on a mission-critical edge that has fundamentally changed the way we think about the data center.

The growth illustrates how the industry flexes and changes at a rapid pace – but it's not just edge networks on industry professionals' minds.

Back in 2014, professionals aimed to increase solar and wind power in the data center to at least 34% of all power by 2025. However, in 2019 that figure dropped to 21% - an indication that is optimistic, but still mindful of an ‘ambitious' timeline, Vertiv says.

The human skills shortage continues to be a problem for data center industry leaders. Globally, 16% of survey participants expect to retire by 2025, which Vertiv says will exacerbate the talent shortage.

In December 2019, Vertiv's 2019 predictions illustrated the skills problem on a wider scale.

“Organisations will begin to change the way they hire data center personnel, moving away from traditional training programs toward more agile, job-specific instruction with an eye toward the edge. More training will happen in-house,” the company predicted.

“Businesses will turn to intelligent systems and machine learning to simplify operations, preserve institutional knowledge, and enable more predictive and efficient service and maintenance.

Vertiv's 2019 predictions also put edge at the forefront of data center development this year.

“Today's edge plays a critical role in data center and network operation and in the delivery of important consumer services,” says Johnson.

“This is a dramatic and fundamental change to the way we think about computing and data management. It should come as no surprise that activity in the data center space in 2019 will be focused squarely on innovation at the edge.

Vertiv polled 800 data center leaders and industry leaders to gain insights for its Data Center 2025: Closer to the Edge update.

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