The Acceleration of the Data Center’s Digital Transformation

How the pandemic shifted the evolution of the data center into hyper speed

By Clint Heiden Chief Revenue Officer, QTS Data Centers and Founder, IEIC

In the early days of the digital era, data centers were mysterious buildings shrouded in secrecy. They were those huge, stark buildings that billowed steam and loomed in the distance. Discretion is understandable considering that for the enterprises using these data centers, their IT operations within were the crown jewels supporting their businesses.

Although some enterprises chose to build and manage their own data centers, others outsourced their IT environment to third-party, multi-tenant colocation data centers, for their shared resources and economies of scale. Those early data centers were relatively simple compared to current designs and the ongoing development. They provided secure data center space, power and connectivity (ping, power and pipe) for companies outsourcing their IT environment.

Since those days, data centers have evolved to support new technology advancements and the related increasing complexities. Many data centers now have become trusted partners to enterprises by also offering expertise that helps leverage the business benefits of virtualization and cloud computing.

Digital Transformation

Data digitization—also known as digital transformation—took off in its current form about 10 years ago, accelerating steadily ever since. According to Statista, “The amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide is expected to grow from around 59 zettabytes (ZB) in 2020 to around 149 ZB in 2024.” Data seems to know no bounds.

For the enterprise, an unforeseen byproduct of data digitization has been an even greater urgency for IT agility, adaptability and transformation. Business models are being disrupted as the digitalization of the economy accelerates and new technologies are serving a reshaped workforce. Advancements in compute, storage and connectivity in particular have been increasing their enterprise IT requirements and related complexity for data centers. 

Data: The LifeBlood of Artificial Intelligence

With digital transformation accelerating and a global digital economy taking shape, third-party data centers are evolving. They’re responding by incorporating technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Although ML is based on the idea that machines should be able to learn and adapt through experience, AI refers to a broader idea where machines can execute tasks smartly. AI applies ML, deep learning and other techniques to solve actual problems. Both depend on vast amounts of data to make good on their ability to analyze and provide actionable information.

AI-Driven Commerce Platforms

New applications and services once thought to be beyond the reach of computing technology is now being actualized with the ability to apply AI, ML, speech recognition, location services, and speed and identity tracking in real-time. We have become intertwined with digital technology to a degree that we previously never could have imagined. Consider the stunning success of hyperscale AI-driven commerce platforms like video streaming, messaging, ride sharing and gaming. They now are mainstays in our daily lives and exemplify the new global digital economy. Typically, these hyperscale companies built their own dedicated data centers to accommodate their significant needs for speed-to-market, scale, location, economics and logistics. The pandemic only further increased these needs.