The rise of the hyperscalers and how they’re setting benchmarks for future performance expectations

The rise of the hyperscalers and how they’re setting benchmarks for future performance expectations

Steve Hone, CEO – The DCA, discusses the benefits of hyperscale data centres and how they are set to dominate data centre spending.

The number of hyperscale data centres currently stands at just over 700 worldwide – a figure which represents a doubling in both the number of hyperscale data centres and capacity in just five years. Interestingly, nearly half of that capacity can be found in the US, followed by China and EMEA.

The leading hyperscale companies remain Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook; however, in respect to speed of growth, it is China that is leading the charge, with an equivalent new data centre coming online every day during 2021. This makes China the fastest growing data centre and hyperscale market on the planet, with organisations such as ByteDance, Alibaba and Tencent seeing the largest increase in capacity.

The global increase in hyperscale capacity is not only being driven by breaking new ground on new sites, but by also expanding the capacity of existing facilities, partnering with traditional colocation hosting providers in key locations, to increase speed of delivery and by investing in new storage and compute technology to ensure optimum performance and efficiency is achieved.

Surprisingly far from slowing things down, the COVID-19 crisis has only served to accelerate the pace of Digital Transformation globally. Projects which were supposed to take years to complete have been completed in months. Given the speed at which businesses operate today, it has become imperative for firms to create an IT infrastructure that can scale proportionately to provision increased demand and scale down appropriately when demand reduces. The pace of demand can fluctuate heavily as business dynamics change and most underlying IT infrastructures are simply unable to scale and keep up.

This has accelerated the demand for hyperscale data centres. Hyperscale refers to the capability of an IT system or architecture to scale exponentially and rapidly to respond to demand that is increasing heavily. Given the nature of digital businesses today, hyperscale data centres are expected to dominate the data centre market. A report by Data Bridge Market Research estimates that the hyperscale data centre market size will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.93% in the forecast period of 2021 to 2028.

According to Vimal Kaw from NTT in Mumbai,  some of the key enablers and drivers which are powering the massive growth of hyperscale data centres today include:

The need to scale quickly: In the current times of increased digital demand, hyperscale data centres give organisations the ability to quickly expand or contract. Hyperscale data centres can scale both horizontally and vertically. Horizontal scaling refers to adding more servers in the network, while vertical scaling refers to adding more CPU or RAM. Hyperscale data centres are custom built and can manage specific high-volume workloads such as genome processing or cancer research. Hyperscale data centres also have distinct characteristics that are different from their traditional counterparts.

The need for resilience: Given the increased dependence on digital, no organisation can afford a single moment of downtime. Hyperscale data centres are built by design to avoid any failure at any given node or server. For example, in case a server fails, the application or workload can be moved from one server to another server, without downtime. Due to the modularity, data centre operators can replace individual physical components, rather than the traditional approach of replacing the entire server, which not only increases costs, but also increases the downtime. This approach also gives extreme flexibility in scaling at the physical level, as components can be added modularly.

The need for saving energy: Hyperscale data centres are setting high performance standards of energy efficiencies. From using the latest technologies such as liquid cooling to using AI for optimising energy usage, hyperscale data centres are setting the performance benchmarks for the future.

The need for more automation: Today, more than ever, IT operations teams are being asked to manage complex IT infrastructure. This, when coupled with rising volumes of data, makes the task of IT teams more difficult to manage today’s dynamic, constantly changing IT environments. Automation is clearly the need of the hour and automation enabled by AI will play a huge role. Hyperscalers are leading the way in using AI for IT operations and are increasingly setting the trend that will see AI being embedded in every component of IT infrastructure. Powered by AI, hyperscalers are quickly defining the future of IT infrastructure – from self-healing infrastructure to databases that can recover quickly in the event of a failure or networks that can automatically configure and reconfigure without any human intervention.

The growth of hyperscale data centres can be seen from the fact that according to research from Synergy Research Group, the total number of large data centres operated by hyperscale providers increased to 597 at the end of 2020, having more than doubled since the end of 2015.

Going forward, hyperscale data centres are expected to dominate data centre spending. According to ReportLinker dated July 21, the hyperscale data centre market by investment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.02% during the period 2021-2026. As businesses continue to shift applications from on-premises to cloud-based infrastructure, hyperscalers will be increasingly preferred thanks to their increased focus on efficiencies and scale.

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