As we meander through recovery summers, “unexpected” increases in unemployment claims and the phoenix-like rise of General Motors—raise your hand if you’ve bought your Volt—there is one thing we can marvel at and that’s the resiliency of the data center business. Just like Coca-Cola we seem to work within an industry that has proven to be largely recession proof. Unlike other industries that are hemorrhaging workers and begging Washington to share the wealth, the overwhelming movement towards a digital society continues to fuel the need for more data center capacity.
Although estimates tend to vary, most analysts peg the CAGR for annualized data center growth at somewhere between 12 and 15%. While not “meteoric” it is exceptional at a time that the US economy is “growing” at a rate of less than 2%. Perhaps most importantly there are no signs that this degree of expansion will decrease any time in the near future. At the present time there are over 100 million smartphones in use and if you pass by the average grade school and see third graders hunched over small glowing screens demonstrating the manual dexterity of the average heart surgeon, you know that that number is only going to get bigger. Toss in tablets and you’ve got a lot of data generation going on. In fact, ever minute of every day the equivalent of 24 Libraries of Congress’ worth of data is generated. These trends present substantial opportunities for data center providers and the businesses that they support including service providers. In her recent presentation at the Hosting and Cloud Transformation Summit 451 analyst Rachel Chalmers stated that the proliferation of the “Internet of Things” (mobile devices) will “…test the existing infrastructure of many enterprises” and that, “You can bet your business that they will turn to third-party providers to help manage the Internet of Things”.
So what does this all mean? Certainly it means that being a data center provider won’t be such a bad thing for the foreseeable future. But it also means that there is economic opportunity associated with the infrastructure that will be required to support these increases in data center facilities. For example, manufacturing jobs for component suppliers, data center construction jobs, jobs to build, operate, and maintain the new power plants that will be needed to drive these new facilities are but a few of the areas that can benefit from the on-going need for data center capacity. Lest we forget, among the potential beneficiaries of the creation of these new positions are the military veterans that have selflessly served our country. Since there is nothing more mission critical than life, our veterans have the training, discipline and dedication needed to become valuable employees for all of our companies. Capitalizing on this opportunity will also require a pro-growth philosophy on the part of local, state and, most importantly, the federal government. If we can successfully harness these elements to seize the positive prospects that stands before us perhaps the data center industry can help ensure that happy days are indeed here again.