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Uptime Institute reveals the results of its 2020 Data Center Industry Survey

The tenth annual Uptime Institute Global Survey of IT and Data Center Managers, which was just released, provides an overview of the practices, experiences and underlying trends in the mission-critical digital infrastructure industry, today and in the future. This survey, the most comprehensive and longest-running of its kind, was conducted online during March and April 2020.

The results show a sector that is, as ever, grappling with a number of difficult issues, such as staffing shortages, the move to cloud and increasing complexity. But it is an industry that is growing and adapting to rapid change on multiple levels. In almost every area under discussion — whether outages, resiliency, staffing, placement of workloads, deployment of innovation or use of cloud — there is considerable diversity in the strategies being employed.


The Key Findings

The enterprise data center is neither dead nor dying. The switch of critical loads to a public cloud is happening slowly, with more than half of workloads expected to remain in on-premises data centers in 2022.

Transparent clouds are good for business. Cloud operators would win more mission-critical business if they were more open. Enterprises want greater visibility into facilities and how resiliency is achieved.

Edge is still on the edge. Most organizations expect their edge computing requirements to increase somewhat in 2020, but fewer than 20% expect a significant increase.

Average site energy efficiency has flatlined. Power usage effectiveness values have not improved much across the industry since 2013. But because more work is now done in big, efficient facilities, the overall energy efficiency of IT has improved.

Rack densities are rising, but facilities are not stretched. The mean average density for 2020 was 8.4 kilowatts per rack. Densities are rising, but not enough to drive wholesale site-level changes in power distribution or cooling technologies.

Bigger outages are becoming more painful. Outages generally continue to occur with disturbing frequency, and the bigger outages are becoming more damaging and expensive — a fact supported by Uptime Institute survey findings for three years running.

Operators admit most outages were their fault. Three-quarters of respondents admit that, in hindsight, their most recent major outage was preventable. With more attention and investment, outage frequency would almost certainly fall significantly.

Power problems are still the biggest cause of major outages. Systems/software and networks may be catching up, but power failures — which impact everything on-site and can cause knock-on effects — are the most likely cause of major outages.

Hardware refreshes are less frequent. Operators are upgrading or replacing their servers less frequently. However, the slowdown in Moore’s law means the potential energy savings from frequent refreshes are no longer very significant.

The data center staffing crisis is getting worse. The portion of managers saying they have difficulty finding qualified candidates for open jobs has risen steadily over the past several years.

Artificial intelligence won’t take over ... yet. Artificial intelligence and automation will not reduce data center operations staffing requirements in the next five years, according to the majority of respondents. After that, however, most think it will.

Water use is unmetered by many. Despite the growing threat of water scarcity, only half of respondents say their organization collects water usage data for their IT/data center operations.

More work is needed to address the workforce gender imbalance. The proportion of women in the data center industry remains very low. Despite pressure and good intent, relatively few operators have a plan or initiative in place to boost the hiring of women.

Use of availability zones is now mainstream. The use of multi-data center availability zones is now common beyond hyperscale operators, with half of respondents saying they use this approach.


The report is available HERE.


Source: Uptime Institute