Forrester report highlights colocation and data center trends in the remote work era


The report focuses on market consolidation, the influence of data gravity, power-saving programs, interconnectivity, and more.

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizations around the globe have transitioned to remote work models. To support a remote infrastructure and empower virtual collaboration, many organizations have leveraged cloud-based solutions and colocation capabilities. On Jan. 20, Forrester published a report highlighting trends across the colocation and data centers market including consolidation, the influence of data gravity, power-saving strategies, and more.

Data gravity’s influence on strategy

Since the phrase was first coined more than a decade ago, the term “data gravity” has taken on a trajectory and orbit all its own. Forrester first dives into the effect data gravity has had on an organizational strategy. The report said that data gravity is “more important than ever,” due to the sheer amount of data being created and the proliferation of new ways to create and “consume piles of data” such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and more.

A focus on power-saving programs

From underwater data centers designed to reduce energy consumption to using hydrogen fuel cells to serve as backup power sources, organizations are leveraging a wide range of tech to reduce the carbon footprint of data centers. Citing International Energy Agency (IEA) data, the report says that data center workloads saw a 650% increase from 2010 to 2019 while “overall energy use remained flat.” Citing EPA data, the report said colocation providers are “among the top users of green energy.” Hyperscalers and cloud vendors are specifically identified as organizations that consume “much of this energy.”

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Increased services and workloads

Vast amounts of data, AI, machine learning capabilities, and more are allowing companies to offer entirely new products and services across industries. Among organizations who plan or have already incorporated public cloud, the report noted about one-third of worldwide infrastructure decision-makers said they use public cloud to run high-performance computing (HPC) or are planning to in the future, citing 2019 and 2020 Forrester surveys.

“Running HPC on-premises often requires high upfront capex and heavy opex requirements to cater to the power requirements. HPC use cases are on the rise and include AI workloads and petrochemical applications such as seismic processing, depth imaging, financial analysis, and healthcare data mining. Services to support special needs are likewise rising,” the report said.

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The importance of interconnected data centers

In May 2020, ResearchAndMarkets.com estimated the $31.39 billion data center colocation market would nearly double by 2025, reaching a projected value of $58.28 billion. As colocation trends rise, ensuring interconnectivity remains critical for organizations and providers alike. The Forrester report identifies data centers interconnection as one of the “primary advantages of the carrier neutral colocation model,” explaining that “all [of] the major colocation players” incorporate “robust interconnection roadmaps.”

Market consolidation

As noted previously, the colocation market is expected to see tremendous growth in the next few years. As an industry, data centers have been trending toward larger complexes to offer enhanced scalability, sustainability, interconnection, and more, according to the report. Acquisitions and mergers have been standard fare across the colocation market, according to the report, “where fortune has favored the brave,” noting that multisite colocation companies “have become especially attractive for such acquisitions.”

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