Navigating the 2024 data centre landscape: trends shaping the industry 

March, 2024 - Shoosmiths LLP

Ahead of International Data Centre Day on 20 March 2024 we consider what we believe to be some of the most important trends that are likely to have an impact on the data centre industry over the next 12 months: 

1. Continued adoption of Artificial Intelligence

As we observed in our article last year, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a significant disruptor to the data centre industry, with generative AI systems such as ChatGPT becoming utilised by businesses across the world. 

Generative AI has high computer power requirements, with graphics processing unit (GPU) chips being needed rather than the traditional central processing unit (CPU) chips to support AI's high density and performance requirements. Whilst data centres may be equipped to house GPU powered racks, these consume more power, are physically heavier and generate more heat than CPU powered racks. 

Whilst the demand and use of generative AI is estimated to increase throughout 2024, data centre operators will no doubt be alive to the challenges of balancing their availability of data halls set up for traditional colocation usage and data halls that are set up for generative AI GPU racks.

. Sustainable practices

Ensuring sustainability credentials will continue to be a top priority for data centre operators, driven by a number of factors including  environmental concerns, customers own CSR/ESG partner requirements and regulatory pressures. It is estimated that data centres account for about 1.5% of global electricity use so we expect to see a continued emphasis on implementing sustainable practices and reducing the carbon footprint of operations.

Operators may look to adopt renewable energy sources to power their facilities in addition to embracing cooling technology advancements (such as liquid immersion cooling and free-air cooling).

Furthermore, the industry is continuing to implement innovative solutions to reuse waste heat generated by racks, thereby reducing energy waste and lowering heating costs in nearby communities, such as the utilisation of data centre heat for district heating networks.

. Regulatory changes

As we reported in January 2024, the UK government launched a consultation, ‘Protecting and enhancing the security and resilience of UK data infrastructure’ with a view to strengthen security measures for data centres operating in the UK. 

The consultation set out the government’s proposals to make minimum security and resilience requirements mandatory for data centre operators. The proposals also included a new statutory framework being implemented together with a regulator being appointed to ensure compliance of the proposed framework and enforcement against non-compliance.

The consultation closed on 22 February 2024 and both operators and customers alike will no doubt be interested to see the government’s proposals which could bring significant changes to data centre industry in the UK.

2024 promises to be another transformative year for data centres, driven by the emergence of AI-driven operations, sustainable practices, and changes in the regulatory landscape. By embracing these trends, data centre operators will look to stay ahead of the curve, in order to deliver unparalleled performance, reliability, and efficiency in an increasingly demanding  world.


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