Roundtable: Top Data Center Trends and Predictions to Watch for in 2023 – Part 117 min read

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Blog

The last few years have been a rapidly changing, eye-opening experience for many organizations. Outside of the many post-pandemic predictions out there, leaders in the data center and technology space have quickly learned what works and what doesn’t to support a largely distributed business and end-user workforce in our increasingly digital world. This has led to the rise of many new technologies and processes for organizations of all shapes and sizes. As we move forward, our industry is serving as the backbone to the digital change required by these new technologies and processes, and we can expect even more change and innovation to occur in the coming year.

This year, we’re publishing our annual data center trends and predictions in a multi-part roundtable series, each headlined by one of our valued blog contributors. To kick us off, Bill Kleyman shares his thoughts for 2023:

1. Density will be a hot topic.There’s never been a better time to do more with less. Why is this so important today? Because we have less to work with. According to DataCenterHawk, the North American primary market vacancy is now averaging 4.4%, its lowest point ever. In Northern Virginia, that vacancy rate is closer to 1%. This is the first time the average dropped below 5%. While there are a few markets with decent capacity available to meet the demand, most are supply constrained with data center operators looking at ways to grow quickly. The latest AFCOM State of the Data Center Survey (to be released very soon) confirms that organizations are doing everything possible to increase density and efficiency. Most (60%) expect rack density to increase in the next 12-36 months, and the average rack density increased by 1.5 kW/rack! Now, how they increase this density showcases the creativity of the company. Some are raising the temperature of their data centers; some are investing in new converged systems, and others are working with improved airflow to create higher levels of dense compute. 

2. Investors are getting even more active in the data center community. I just returned from PTC 2023 in Hawaii. Yes, let’s all take a moment and be jealous. Not too much now that I’m back and enjoying winter in Chicago. Leading investors are taking an even more active role in helping critical infrastructure grow and expand. Why is this happening? There is so much opportunity and new markets that it would be silly not to get more involved. These investors are working hard to help data center leaders work with capital more effectively as challenges around supply chain and go-to-market speeds emerge more prominently in our industry. Something to keep an eye on would be more mergers and acquisitions in the data center space. There are a lot of areas for growth as emerging markets for infrastructure and connectivity offer excellent opportunities to grow a business. However, approaching these new opportunities must be done in a cautious and calculated manner. Expect more updates and interaction from private equity leaders aiming to support and grow the digital infrastructure industry.

3. Sustainability as a standard. The good news is that we’re really understanding sustainability and our impact on the world. The other key part is that we’re narrowing down our focus on where we need to be the most sustainable. Of course, water becomes a big consideration. Let’s look at the findings from the latest AFCOM report. A clear majority of respondent organizations (81%) are considering implementing water conservation solutions in their data centers or report their customer is implementing some such solutions.

The top three specific solutions under consideration are:

1. Leveraging new cooling solutions that do not require water

2. Effluent/gray water recycling

3. Working with vendors and partners to build water treatment solutions

4. Physical security.  Look… I know this can be an uncomfortable topic. But we need to discuss it. I’m sure you’re aware of the recent attacks against electrical grids and infrastructure. This poses a very real immediate threat to critical infrastructure and data centers. For the first time in our AFCOM survey, respondents indicated that they integrated physical security into their DCIM systems. Also, for the first time, human threats (outside and inside) made the Top 5 List of Primary Security and Infrastructure Threats. It’s clear that critical infrastructure is rethinking how we secure our most important systems. Physical security is about to get even more front-and-center with new solutions around AI and Machine Learning. 

5. Nuclear data centers. Remember this blog on Nuclear-Powered Data Centers? Well, now I have more data. We actually asked the question about nuclear data centers in the AFCOM State of the Data Center Report. And quite a few respondents returned saying nuclear power was in their future. I can’t give away too many stats, you’ll have to wait for the report to come out, but a fair number of respondents stated that they’ll be looking at nuclear power as a possible source to power their data centers.

Real-time monitoring, data-driven optimization.

Immersive software, innovative sensors and expert thermal services to monitor,
manage, and maximize the power and cooling infrastructure for critical
data center environments.


Real-time monitoring, data-driven optimization.

Immersive software, innovative sensors and expert thermal services to monitor, manage, and maximize the power and cooling infrastructure for critical data center environments.

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman

Industry Analyst | Board Advisory Member | Writer/Blogger/Speaker | Contributing Editor | Executive | Millennial

Bill Kleyman is an award-winning data center, cloud, and digital infrastructure leader. He was ranked globally by an Onalytica Study as one of the leading executives in cloud computing and data security. He has spent more than 15 years specializing in the cybersecurity, virtualization, cloud, and data center industry. As an award-winning technologist, his most recent efforts with the Infrastructure Masons were recognized when he received the 2020 IM100 Award and the 2021 iMasons Education Champion Award for his work with numerous HBCUs and for helping diversify the digital infrastructure talent pool.

As an industry analyst, speaker, and author, Bill helps the digital infrastructure teams develop new ways to impact data center design, cloud architecture, security models (both physical and software), and how to work with new and emerging technologies.

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