State of the Data Center

State of the Data Center

As if there was ever any doubt, our society is now officially data driven – currently 66% of people in the world use mobile phones and 59% use the internet. This last year, due in large part to the global pandemic, upended the way we live and work and has made some changes for good; much of that change centers around technology. According to AFCOM research, 64% of us had a technology first last year, which aligns with the accelerated growth in tech: adoption of cloud computing increased by 55%, and artificial intelligence and machine learning grew by 51%.

Digital is the catalyst for innovation in business; and it is what got most people through the last year. Because of the pandemic, people spent significantly more time with their devices—smartphones, laptops and desktops, tablets, streaming media, games, etc. Eighty three percent of people report that digital access helped them cope with the lockdowns, and three-quarters report that it helped with their children’s education and maintaining relationships with family and friends.

After making such a massive shift, most see these changes becoming permanent—81% expect to continue to use their new tech skills, including tasks like video conferencing, scheduling appointments, mobile banking, and telehealth.

Data Center Overview

Data Centers are at the center of this innovation and advancement, as they enabled the expanded, real-time access that so many have come to rely on. Across the country, Data Centers are holding steady, expanding or renovating to meet the needs, or even building new Data Centers.

As the central enabler of the digital economy, Data Centers are adapting. Right now, a majority of Data Centers have security and environment management. And most (89%) are looking to integrate with cloud and virtualization even as try to strike a balance to meet customers’ need—58% are repatriating workloads to on-premise or colocation as they deal with growing concerns about corporate data, costs, latency, reliability, and performance. Data Centers believe that cloud and Data Center security architecture are likely to have the biggest impact on future operations.


Total data storage capacity is expected to grow significantly over the next three years, from an estimated mean capacity of 7.9 PB to 16.7 PB, with edge expected to lead growth in the next two years. As they manage the shift, Data Centers are aware of their environmental responsibility—65% are increasing their use of renewable energy. And are looking for new ways to meet customers’ needs including the 41% who expect to bring robotics or autonomous systems online in the next year or two. Security remains top of mind as companies are looking to adopt zero trust security models, for both logical and physical security.


Most companies are finding it difficult to hire qualified Data Center staff, including tech, engineers, operators, cloud architects, and security personnel. The struggles to hire staff was exacerbated by the pandemic; and companies are offering continuing education and training, and flexible hours and work environments to appeal to potential employees.

As the world continues to lean into the digital realm for business, work, entertainment, and more, the world’s data is expected to grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes in 2025, with Internet of Things devices creating 90 zettabytes of that on their own. This world will require significant real-time processing power, as close to users as possible. And Data Centers are what will make this world possible.