By MIKE JONES, MicroCare -- There is no doubt that our world is increasingly digitally interconnected.
Today there are about 4 billion smart phones in use worldwide. High-speed 4G and 5G wireless networks make it possible to stream games, videos, and data-intensive apps like Roku and Waze to billions of mobile devices. Artificial intelligence apps like Alexa and “smart” home appliances are ubiquitous data hogs. New analytical tools such as high-frequency financial trading, credit card fraud detection, and even real-time aircraft tracking and maintenance only are possible due to the enormous predictive power of big data.
Globally, we’re addicted to our data. Cisco estimates internet traffic will increase 127-fold from 2005 to 2021. Here’s the rub: Every single one of these devices end up connecting to a giant data center, somewhere.
Data centers are an astounding, fast-growing service industry. Starting from nearly zero 20 years ago, Emerson Network Power estimates today there are 510,000 data centers worldwide with global revenues around $174 billion. The unbeatable value-added proposition offered by data centers is the massive collection and manipulation of raw data into real-time products, such as when Waze converts cell phone information into traffic advisories or when Alexa responds to voice commands. But data center growth creates a new set of problems. Most worryingly, data centers are huge.
At a staggering 7.2 million square feet, “The Citadel” in Reno, NV, is billed as the largest and most efficient data center in the United States. It’s getting to the point where “hyperscale” data centers of more than 200,000 square feet — serving companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft — are becoming the norm.