Data center census: Investment growing 22 percent this year

Among the telling stats from Datacenter Dynamics Intelligence's recent survey is that data center real estate grew 8.3 percent over the past year while power demand grew 63.3 percent.

A global data center census conducted by DCD Intelligence (DatacenterDynamics Intelligence) found that worldwide investment in data centers is growing from approximately US$86 billion in 2011 to $105 billion this year. The census is described by DCD Intelligence as “the largest worldwide quantitative survey of the data center industry.” DCD Intelligence managing director Nicola Hayes commented, “Our forecast for 2013 shows a slower rate of growth but still a very healthy 14.5 percent over 2012 levels, with a further $15 billion of additional investment.”

The survey incorporated systems across data centers, including facilities management, mechanical and electrical systems including power supply and cooling, as well as IT equipment. That sector includes active equipment such as servers, storage, switches and routers, and showed 16.7-percent growth – from $30 billion to $35 billion – in the current year, with a 12-percent growth rate forecast for 2013.

Of data centers overall, Hayes said, “Much of the increase in investment in this sector is being driven by growth in less-developed markets, although we continue to see some growth in the mature data center markets of North America and Western Europe. Regions such as Asia Pacific and Latin America are the ones really fueling global data center investment levels.”

Perhaps the most eye-popping figure coming from the census is a 63.3-percent increase in power requirements over the past 12 months, to a worldwide total of 38 gigawatts. By comparison, the anticipated 17-percent demand increase for the coming year looks modest. Looking a little more closely at power-consumption numbers, DCD Intelligence found that the percentage of racks housing more than 10kW of power rose from 15 percent last year to 18 percent this year.

“The global trend for data center ‘white space’ – the area in a data center which houses the IT equipment – grew globally by a relatively small 8.3 percent from 24 million square meters to 26 million square meters,” DCD Intelligence said, “though a sharper rise by 19.2 percent to 31 million square meters is forecast for 2013.”

To reiterate: while white space increased 8.3 percent over a year, the requirement for power increased 63.3 percent over the same period.

Then came this statistic, which appears on its surface to be a head-scratcher: “Surprisingly, concern as to power availability and cost – both of which have been constant topics in the media and data center professional groups in recent years – is actually down on a global basis,” Hayes said.

She then offered a cure for the head-scratching: “This is explained in part by the increasing representation amongst the sample of companies in less developed markets where power requirements are smaller and so less constrained than in mature markets. Also in part by efficiency and other strategies put in place by data center companies over the past 12 months to mitigate against increased power costs and to overcome issues to do with availability.”

The census also found that outsourcing, and particularly colocation, increased significantly from $16 billion to $21 billion – a 31.3-percent jump – over the past year “and is projected to continue with a further $5-billion increase into 2013,” DCD Intelligence said.

The North American market’s 14-percent growth can be considered modest when compared to other global regions, DCD Intelligence explained, but Hayes put the figures into perspective. “It should be remembered that this market is a far more mature one than other regions and so growth levels will naturally be lower than in the developing markets. For example although investment in Latin America has grown by 31.4 percent over the same period, the total amount invested is $13.8 billion compared to North America, where the investment over the past 12 months is estimated to be $44.1 billion. The economic impact has however had a slight impact on IT and in particular data center spend with companies being more cautious than in previous years with regards to where investments are made.”

On North American power consumption, DCD Intelligence points out that requirements grew by 5.3 percent over the year. “Figures from the census relating to power usage awareness, carbon emissions monitoring and overall energy monitoring are also positive in the region, showing a growing commitment to reducing energy costs and addressing high PUE ratios.”

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