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Now that I have weighed in on the accuracy of my predictions for 2018, it’s time to prophesy as to what will happen in the data center and tech realm in 2019. I can rest assured that my predictions will be at least as accurate as the “experts” were in predicting that Alabama would beat Clemson in the college football national championship game.
1: Construction labor shortage will force data center innovation
The shortage of skilled labor in construction is well documented and has had a serious impact on the rollout of data centers for the hyperscalers and colocation providers alike. This unfortunate trend will continue in 2019. When combined with the fact that construction is the only non-farm related industry that hasn’t improved productivity in at least 50 years, something has to change.
Innovation has been in progress for years and will ramp up even more in 2019. In order to meet the ever more challenging schedules, prefabrication will be called upon even more. Cooling units outside of the data center and UPS in a box are good starts, but the industry must take the next step. Fully prefabricated electrical rooms will become more commonplace as will other aspects of the building. We must create parallel paths in production and leverage another labor pool to meet the demands of the digital age.
You will also see more frequent 3D scanning to track progress and quality, as well as the implementation of drones to improve the safety and speed of inspections. I’d like to see automation play a larger part, but I think robots on the construction site are a few years away from being a frequent occurrence.
2: Connectivity becomes even more critical
Obviously, connectivity has always been important, but it will become even more so in 2019. With public cloud adoption marching upward, connectivity to their remote hyperscale data centers will be important to user experience. Hybrid IT and geographically dispersed workloads will force this issue as well. Edge implementations will be the driver that really forces this issue. Heaven forbid that you experience a delay in viewing your favorite eSports “athlete” streaming his latest conquest!
3: Digital transformation will turn IT into a profit center
According to Accenture, only 13% of businesses have realized the full impact of their digital investments. This will improve in 2019 with increasing alignment between business and IT. By leveraging IT more, operational efficiency can be accelerated, more problems can be solved, and user experiences can become increasingly personalized. The resulting increased productivity will be critical in addressing the talent shortage present in so many industries. For these reasons and more, IT will be viewed more as a profit center enabling business rather than the traditional view of it being a necessary evil and a cost center. There has never been a better time to be a geek!
4: Data breaches will happen more frequently and get larger
As I said in last year’s predictions, nobody’s data is safe. 2019 will reinforce that point with more frequent and larger hacks. The threat surface is ever increasing with the accelerating implementation of IoT and the ubiquity of tech in general. Combine this with a massive talent shortage – there are 300,000 open cybersecurity jobs today and an estimated 3.5 million will be unfilled by 2021 – and you’ve got a big problem!
This will make the use of AI and machine learning critical in the identification of vulnerabilities and breaches. By automating the mundane tasks, it frees up the cybersecurity professionals to perform the analysis that requires more critical thinking. Maybe GDPR and other data related regulations will actually be enforced this year forcing companies to take this issue more seriously.
5: Private cloud takes back spend from public cloud
An IDC survey showed private cloud and software defined data centers were taking back some of the spend that was previously put into public cloud. I predict that this will continue in 2019 bringing the market back toward a more balanced hybrid approach to IT. I am by no means predicting that public cloud will retract, there is enough data for everyone. It’s about putting the workloads where they can be performed best and most securely.
6: Public cloud will continue to drive wholesale colocation
As the hyperscalers continued their hyperactivity as I predicted in 2018, they also filled up wholesale colocation space as fast as it could be built. This trend will continue in 2019, if for no other reason than the fact that they can’t build data centers fast enough on their own.
7: Colocation will enable hybrid IT
There are still those that say everyone will go public cloud. There are also some confused souls that say everything is going to swing back on-premise. The reality is that hybrid will win the day and colocation is uniquely suited to enable this approach. Colocation is both your own data center for private cloud, but also the on-ramp for public cloud. With more enterprises moving to a hybrid approach, colocation providers should continue to thrive.
8: 5G will change our lives, just not in 2019
When 5G is rolled out nationally, it will indeed change our lives. With it’s amazing speed and capacity, it will enable technologies that are only a dream today. It will aid in the creation of truly smart cities. It will also allow all kinds of not so great things like ubiquitous surveillance. With all of that said, it will take beyond 2019 to roll it out on a national level and for all of us to upgrade our phones and other devices to be able to connect.
Time will tell…
This article originally appeared in Data Center Dynamics.
Ron Vokoun is an independent data center consultant with nearly three decades of industry experience.
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