Designers of data centers have been focusing on ways to improve the performance of these critical assets, while exploring ways to minimize their environmental footprint — while delivering the practical solutions that address the needs of today’s IT teams.

But some designers are taking it a step further, envisioning the possibilities of data center innovations of the future. Whether you’re talking about the next 5 years or the next 20 years, change will come. According to Search Data Center, we’ll see the highest rate of changes in data centers leading up to 2020 — in almost every area.

Take a look at some of these futuristic data center models — both realistic and imagined:

Data Centers of the Future Could Go Sky HighSkyscraper data center. Just recently, two European architects unveiled a data center design that’s more like a tower than a “center,” according to a Network World article. Challenging current designs in which data centers are low and sprawling, Marco Merletti and Valeria Mercuri proposed a 65-story data center. For now, it’s just an idea. However, the pair received recognition in the annual Skyscraper Competition. The futuristic tower, which features sustainable technology to cool hundreds of thousands of servers, would be powered by geothermal energy and hydropower. It also has a “chimney effect,” according to Merletti, noting that the air inside the tower will be hotter than exterior air. “The hot air inside the tower goes up and sucks the cold air from the outside. The outside cold air, to enter, is obliged to pass through the pods, and in this way cools the servers.”

Reduction in server counts. The future data center will go from running hundreds of Docker container instances to thousands, according to Search Data Center, leading to a significant reduction in server count and space.

Use of artificial intelligence. With more companies investing in artificial intelligence, it is likely that these innovations will be incorporated in data center designs, according to a Tech Republic article. As evidence of this likely trend, the article pointed to Google’s use of machine learning through neural networks to optimize data centers.

The hyper-convergence of servers and storage into a single box. Again, this one from Search Data Center, it is projected that data centers will make this move because of the availability of fast non-volatile memory express (NVMe) solid-state drives (SSD).

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Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.