Exploring Data Centre Trends for 2023, with CommScope’s Ashley Martin
As we enter the new year, businesses across all sectors are evaluating their digital strategies to see how they can improve in 2023. For the data centre industry, growing customer demand for greater capacity and efficiency is expected to drive innovation in the coming years.
CommScope aims to push the boundaries of communications technology to create the world’s most advanced networks. Across the globe, their team and solutions are redefining connectivity, solving today’s challenges and driving the innovation that will meet the needs of what’s next.
CommScope recently published an eBook: What’s Next for the Data Centre – 2023 Trends to Watch. To discuss their findings in more detail, we sat down with their Data Centre Solutions Manager, Ashley Martin, to explore data centre trends for 2023 and beyond. Read the full interview below:
Many macro socio-economic factors have significantly impacted business across all industries over the past few years (i.e. COVID, supply shortages, etc.). How have these unprecedented disruptions affected the data centre industry and demand from customers?
These factors have certainly impacted the industry. The COVID-19 lockdowns resulted in millions of people working and learning from home. This shift put immense pressure on data centres overnight, as they had to handle high-bandwidth video and cloud-based applications over a much more widely distributed area.
Then came the worldwide supply chain disruptions and labour shortages. These challenges made it hard for data centres to build out additional capacity because they couldn’t find critical components or skilled people to install and run them.
And most recently, global inflation and spiking energy prices (exacerbated by world events like the conflict in Ukraine), have forced companies to rearrange supply chains to continue operating throughout elevated energy costs.
It’s important to remember that these world events aren’t exclusive to the data centre industry. The growing social and commercial role of back-end data centre processing and storage has presented just as many challenges. This is why the industry continues to grow; more facilities are being built, yet with greater scale comes more complexity in how they are delivered and operated.
Customers are expecting more capacity and efficiency than ever before. How is 5G enabling data centre operators to keep up with demand?
5G is starting to drive even more demand within the data centre industry. Low latency/ high bandwidth network speeds means that there are many new and exciting applications entering the market. All that gets piped to data centres, which are increasingly moving to the edge to shave those last few precious milliseconds off the Response Time Reporter (RTR).
However, the option of using 5G for site-to-site communications in a wireless format is still new. Many operators will continue to rely upon fibre optic networks for these links because of the improved security, speed and consistency. The ability to quickly scale and provide connectivity at such high bandwidth will surely make 5G an attractive proposition for any operator.
Has CommScope had to alter its strategies to align with shifting priorities and growing demands from customers?
Of course – but that’s a good thing. Data explosion has been happening for many years, and formats and applications used to transmit data have grown alongside it. CommScope has always had a rich history in wired, wireless and fibre optic connectivity. It is these two formats that are driving the next evolution of data centres.
That being said, the technologies of yesterday don’t guarantee anything. To deal with this, CommScope invests over US$600M per year in developing solutions that will support technologies such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6/6E, and fibre optic connectivity solutions for Data Centres, such as 16 fibre MPOs to support 400/800G transmission.
All these things are to support customers and their network needs. It is our responsibility to ensure they have a smooth path to scaling their businesses with the latest and best network connectivity available.
CommScope has said that energy efficiency will drive data centre evolution in 2023, can you please elaborate on this prediction?
As stated earlier, global energy prices are impacted by many socio-economic factors, making them a key contributor to the financial health of any facility. Not only that, but the world’s capacity to supply energy to such a power-hungry industry also has an impact. Data centres consume approximately 10% of the world’s energy – and that number is only increasing.
There are many new facilities being built, customer networks are expanding, and applications are ever evolving. These factors culminate in the need for more rack/ storage space. To meet this demand, new technologies are being developed to help minimize power usage. Some examples are more effective cooling solutions – like immersive cooling technologies - and advancements in connectivity technology for greater efficiency, and to make rack space more useful for other network components.
On a more strategic level, moving data centres to the edge of the network, connected by high-speed fibre, can improve energy efficiency as well as latency. Also, consider alternate locations where there is access to renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear.
With your 2023 prediction in mind, what key strategies and service offerings will CommScope develop to meet the needs of customers in 2023 and beyond?
Data centres must improve their delivery of services using fibre and edge-based infrastructure, as well as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). And at the same time, they must increase operational efficiency by reducing energy use per unit of compute power.
CommScope is already leading the way to support fibre connectivity solutions, both on an internal facility level and across the campus and wider area network. We're also increasing availability to manage connectivity and cabling with automation through CommScope’s imVision solution, which allows customers to have wider site areas in economically favourable locations.
CpmmScope’s imVision enables users to house connectivity and site data all in one, easy-to-reach platform. Its open API means that it can integrate with many DCIM solutions and run in the background or stand-alone. The visibility of any network is key to fault-finding speed and understanding how to scale quickly.
How will more efficient, higher-capacity data centres benefit customers and broader society?
The cloud has opened the world to an amazing new reality. One where we can work remotely, access vast data at our fingertips, and develop new and exciting applications that we could have only dreamed of less than a decade ago.
Consider all the new applications that rely on capable, reliable data centre support to operate. For instance, there is the mobile app ordering at your local restaurant, the high-speed robots in a warehouse picking up your online order just minutes after you hit “Check Out”, and even the driving assist-equipped vehicle in the next lane. The speed and volume of data being generated, processed, and transported by these applications, and countless others, are growing exponentially.
Data centres make all of this happen, and as they grow so do the applications and abilities we can use in our lives. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, networks, and software that ‘learn’ will continue to give society new scope for development in areas we never thought possible.
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Contributor: Ashley Martin, Data Centre Solutions Manager - South Pacific, CommScope
With over 20 years in network infrastructure design and deployments, Ashley has extensive experience with building Hyper Scale Data Centre fibre networks and is working at the forefront of network development. He participates in the industry actively through such avenues as the Chairperson of CT-001 - Communications Cabling Committee, Standards Australia as well as the Chair of specific sub-committees, such as CT-001-02 – Fibre Optic Systems. He is also Australia’s representative for IEC 86C – Fibre Optic Systems and Active Devices. Ashley is currently CommScope’s Data Centre Solution Manager, helping to offer unique and innovative solutions to the market.