The data center is no longer back-of-house business. Long gone are the days when company data centers were out of sight and out of the public consciousness, managed by the proverbial wizards behind the curtain. In the tech-fueled economy, data centers not only ensure the delivery of critical service, they make headlines. Fortune and The Wall Street Journal write about Facebook's wind-powered data center and Intel's new facility that could rival Google and Facebook. The data center has taken its rightful place as a competitive advantage for the company that does it right.
The number of data centers and data traffic will reach an all-time high in 2016. The primary cause of this growth is cloud traffic, which is expected to expand 4.5 fold by 2017. As an architect who specializes in data center design, I'm seeing the same kind of exponential growth in data center construction -- TechNavio is predicting an almost 22 percent rate of growth in data centers through 2018.
If you're building or operating a data center in 2016, in the middle of what can only be described as a fast and furious market, my advice for you is don't look behind you or beside you. What was done in the past is largely irrelevant. So is what other companies are doing -- their budgets and missions are completely different from yours. The secret is to plan your data center with your company's specific future in mind. That's what good design is all about.
2016 will be a banner year for the technology adoption. In addition to the ever-growing Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics will start to become a reality of daily life. That's going to mean exponential growth for tech-oriented companies, which will rely on their data centers more than ever. By the end of 2016, critical facilities will be an organization's prime indicator of competitive advantage. Companies who embrace design will be rewarded with a data center that is not only secure and functional, but can integrate into the community, represent the brand, and protect precious time and money.
Following the five tips outlined here, you can turn your data center into your secret weapon in 2016.
Michael Rane Downey, RA, LEED ID+C, is leader of the Northwest Region Mission Critical Practice Area at architecture and planning firm Gensler.
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