June 24, 2024

World’s Data Centers Expected to Grow, Survey Says

The next great expansion of the world’s digital infrastructure is under way in developing markets like those of China, Brazil and Argentina, according to a global census of the industry released on Monday.

Despite growing concerns of a global economic slowdown, the companies that construct and operate data centers that run the Internet and store vast amounts of corporate and government data expect growth next year to match levels last seen in the world economy’s boom years: about 19 percent.

The census focused on data centers, the buildings and complexes filled with the computers that operate the Internet, store and process e-mail, preserve medical records, carry out Web searches and perform countless other tasks for corporations, governments and other organizations. The London-based company that released the results, DatacenterDynamics, said it conducted some 5,400 interviews this year with industry officials around the world. Those officials are responsible for about 100,000 data centers, the company said.

The officials interviewed cited the cost and availability of energy for their power-hungry computers as their top concern in planning future operations. Such energy concerns were driving them to design more efficient data centers.

But the predicted shift away from the Western United States, and out of the United States entirely, may also be related to those concerns. The census, which expressed its results in energy use, showed a projected increase of 46 percent in China over the next year.

“Imagine what might happen when India and China get the pedal to the metal in terms of data center growth and the effect that will have upon global energy consumption in the sector,” said George Rockett, a co-founder of DatacenterDynamics.

The company said that projections of brisk growth in the Nordic countries could be partly a result of the availability of renewable energy there.

The findings received mixed reviews from other experts in the field. Jonathan G. Koomey, a consulting professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at Stanford University, pointed out that the projected growth rates were “self-reported” — estimated by the companies themselves rather than by outside analysts, who would presumably be more objective.

A study that Mr. Koomey released in July indicated that while power consumption by data centers doubled from 2000 to 2005, it grew at a much slower pace in the next five years. He cited cutbacks caused by the recession and more efficient computing facilities as contributing factors.

Still, if the new figures are correct, they suggest that the industry is recovering its footing, he said.

“We just had the greatest economic shock since the Great Depression,” Mr. Koomey said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if people started investing in facilities again.”

Although the census found minuscule growth in power consumption by data centers in the Western United States in 2012, it did predict growth in the Eastern United States of some 22 percent. James Coakley, president and chief executive of Power Loft Services in Manassas, Va., said that the large projections were “hard to believe” given current vacancy rates in data centers. “I do not see the surge of demand that would produce that amount of growth — at least not here in the U.S.,” Mr. Coakley said.

Mark Bramfitt, a data center consultant and former California utility official, said he doubted that the pattern of data center growth would increase so quickly in the East, while sinking in the West, where it all began. “Doesn’t feel right at both ends,” Mr. Bramfitt said.

DatacenterDynamics said, however, that it took great pains to avoid statistical anomalies like double-counting that could inflate the results.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=f1d5767e3c11e71156e3d2b187999f5f

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