Apr 29 2024
Data Center

A Data Center Building Boom Is About to Begin

The computing-power demands of artificial intelligence is a big reason why.

The widespread adoption of cloud computing has reduced the number of organizations that operate their own data centers, but has only increased the number of data centers around the world, as large hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure continue to build out the infrastructure necessary to accommodate their customers.

In fact, according to AFCOM, the leading membership association for data center professionals, we’re about to experience skyrocketing data center construction, with new projects increasing sixfold in the next three years. The prediction is included in AFCOM’s recently released eighth annual State of the Data Center report. If you guessed that artificial intelligence — and the massive volumes of data storage and computing power required by it — is primary the cause of the data center boom, you guessed right.

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AI Will Produce a 'New Digital Era'

“We are at the cusp of crafting a digital era like no other,” said Bill Kleyman, the program chair of Data Center World, AFCOM’s annual trade show, in a press release. “In our world of unceasing connectivity, the reliance on data center operations is skyrocketing, magnifying the indispensability of the resources they provide every moment.”

When the construction boom is complete, the total number of data centers in operation will have increased by 57 percent, according to the report, with each respondent operating 22 data centers on average, up from 14 today.

All of that data center construction is potentially worrisome from a sustainability standpoint. That’s why a focus on sustainable practices is growing rapidly within the industry, with nearly three-quarters of respondents planning to use renewable energy. “Respondents believe solar (59 percent) is gaining the most traction in data center operations, followed at a distance by wind (28 percent),” the report notes.

Getty Images/ Gerville

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