10 Data Center Trends For 2020

Uptime Institute report shows a data center industry that is expanding, especially at the edge, attracting new investors and increasingly embracing new technologies.

Ahead of the new year, Uptime Institute released a report that examines 10 data center trends that owners, operators, and other stakeholders should consider in their decision-making and long-term planning. An operating division of the 451 Group, Uptime Institute is an advisory organization focused on improving the performance, efficiency, and reliability of business critical infrastructure.

Uptime Institute’s examination of some of the top trends in data centers in 2020 shows an industry that is confidently expanding, especially at the edge, attracting new investors and increasingly embracing new technologies. But it also faces some challenges — particularly in the areas of resiliency, staffing, environmental impact and energy use.

data center trends
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In the report, the Uptime Institute Intelligence team looks into key 2020 data center industry trends…

1. Outages drive authorities and businesses to act.
Big IT outages are occurring with growing regularity, many with severe consequences. Executives, industry authorities and governments alike are responding with more rules, calls for more transparency and a more formal approach to endto-end, holistic resiliency.

2. The internet tilts toward the edge.
In the coming years, significant data will be generated by many more things and much more will be processed away from the core, especially in regional data centers. Many different types of data centers and networking approaches will be needed.

3. Data center energy use goes up and up.
Energy use by data centers and IT will continue to rise, putting pressure on energy infrastructure and raising questions about carbon emissions. The drivers for more energy use are simply too great to be offset by efficiency gains.

4. Capital inflow boosts the data center market.
Data centers are no longer a niche or exotic investment among mainstream institutional buyers, which are swarming to the sector. New types of capital investors, with deep pockets and long return timelines, could boost the sector overall.

5. More data, more automated data centers.
Many managers are wary of handing key decisions and operations to machines or outside programmers. But recent advances, including the broad adoption of data center infrastructure management systems and the introduction of artificial intelligence-driven cloud services, have made this much more likely. The case for more automation will become increasingly compelling.

6. Data centers without generators: More pilots, more deployments.
Most big data centers cannot contemplate operating without generators, but there is a strong drive to do so. Technological alternatives are improving, and the number of good use cases is proliferating. The next 24 months are likely to see more pilots and deployments.

7. Pay-as-you-go model spreads to critical components.
As enterprises continue to move from a focus on capital expenditures to operating expenditures, more critical infrastructure services and components — from backup energy and software to data center capacity — will be consumed on a pay-as-you-go, “as a service” basis.

8. Micro data centers: An explosion in demand, in slow motion.
The surge in demand for micro data centers will be real, and it will be strong — but it will take time to arrive in force. Many of the economic and technical drivers are not yet mature; and 5G, one of the key underlying catalysts, is in its infancy. Demand will grow faster from 2022.

9. Staffing shortages are systemic and worsening.
The data center sector’s staffing problem is systemic and long term, and employers will continue to struggle with talent shortages and growing recruitment costs. To solve the crisis, more investment will be needed from industry and educators.

10. Climate change spurs data center regulations.
Climate change awareness is growing, and attitudes are hardening. Although major industry players are acting, legislators, lobbyists and the public are pressing for more. More regulations are on the way, addressing energy efficiency, renewable energy and waste reduction.

The information above is from the downloadable excerpt of a comprehensive report available to Uptime Institute Network members. This document includes the highlights of the material contained in the larger original.

Read about the 2019 data center trends and compare, in this April 2019 article by Uptime Institute’s Christopher Brown.


  1. Really informative article! Agree with all your points. Another emerging trend is colocation. With the expanding versatility of third-party data centers and rising costs of building a private data center, colocation seems to be a good option.

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