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IDC: number of data centers will peak at 8.6 million in 2017 then begin to decline

| November 10, 2014

constructionA new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that the transition to the 3rd Platform is having a direct impact on datacenter construction and remodeling. IDC expects the total number of datacenters (all types) deployed worldwide will peak at 8.6 million in 2017 and then begin to decline slowly. This shift will be triggered by a decline in internal datacenter server rooms starting in 2016 and internal server closets starting in 2017. All other datacenter categories will continue to grow throughout the forecast period, with the number of service provider datacenters increasing much faster. Despite a decline in the number of datacenters, total worldwide datacenter space will continue to increase, growing from 1.58 billion square feet in 2013 to 1.94 billion square feet in 2018.

The datacenter and server rooms/closets are no longer just the places where organizations house their IT assets. The datacenter must serve as the primary point of engagement and information exchange with employees, partners, and customers in today’s interconnected world. The datacenter is also the foundation for new business models where leveraging large volumes of data and highly elastic compute resources are critical to delivering better insight and a superior product/user experience. This requires that datacenters reliably deliver large and highly variable amounts of transaction, content serving, and analytic capacity on time, with no delays and no excuses. In this environment, building and running datacenters as well as managing IT assets at the edge can no longer be a part-time or occasional job.

“Over the next five years, a majority of organizations will stop managing their own infrastructure,” explained Richard L. Villars, Vice President, Datacenter and Cloud Research at IDC. “They will make greater use of on-premise and hosted managed services for their existing IT assets, and turn to dedicated and shared cloud offerings in service provider datacenters for new services. This will result in the consolidation and retirement of some existing internal datacenters, particularly at the low end. At the same time, service providers will continue their race to build, remodel, and acquire datacenters to meet the growing demand for capacity.”

The most significant development in datacenter construction is the growing importance of service provider mega datacenters, which are the primary server location for large collocation and cloud service providers. By 2018, these mega datacenters will account for the vast majority (72.6%) of all service provider datacenter construction in terms of space while also accounting for 44.6% of all new high-end datacenter space around the world (up from 19.3% in 2013).

Similarly, the number of internal high-end datacenter environments, which typically require longer-term commitments of assets to build or refresh, will continue to grow throughout the forecast. Much of this growth can be attributed to continued strong datacenter construction in China and construction of large datacenters to replace smaller, more dispersed enterprise datacenters. The continued buildout of larger datacenters ensures that actual internal datacenter space will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4% over the forecast period and account for nearly one third of total worldwide datacenter space (all types) in 2018.

The IDC study, Worldwide Datacenter Census and Construction 2014-2018 Forecast: Aging Enterprise Datacenters and the Accelerating Service Provider Buildout (Doc #251830), provides a census of datacenters around the world by size, sophistication, and ownership. It also forecasts datacenter construction driven by replacement of older datacenters and expansion to support new cloud and analytic use cases. The report provides a forecast of datacenter installations and new builds by enterprises and service providers through 2018. It also assesses the impact of changing industry business models and IT developments on datacenter design, build, and management.

Taxonomy Notes: 

Internal datacenters are owned and operated by organizations for their own use.  Service provider datacenters are owned by service providers and can be used for their own services or as a location where customers can place IT assets (e.g. collocation facilities).

Datacenter units refer to the datacenter itself. Other than in mega datacenters, there is a one-to-one relationship. Datacenter space is the total square footage inside the cooling envelope, whether that space is used for server racks or power suppliers or the space between racks.

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