Timothy Arnold, 6DG’s Colocation Technology Director, shares what he thinks will be the big topics in the data centre world in the year ahead…

1. Connectivity
5G is expected to start being rolled out in 2020, so in 2017 many companies will be getting their data centres prepared for a lot more data. 5G is expected to bring download speeds to mobile devices with up to 10 Gbps per second – roughly 100 times faster than current networks. To put this into context, a 5G connection would allow you to download a film to your mobile device in less than five seconds.

In 2017 I expect to see preparations for 5G influencing data centre strategy so that providers are able to support the demands it will incur.

2. Living on the edge
Edge data centers are smaller facilities, built close to the businesses they are serving. This helps reduce latency between sites and I expect they will become increasingly important as high-speed networks such as 5G are rolled out. 2017 will be the year that we see real growth in this type of facility, especially where the big data centre players don’t have a presence or there is demand from a specific market niche.

3. Certainty
In 2017, it is unlikely that the physical data centre will change much, however, network capacity will to continue to increase. 100 Gbps networks are becoming increasingly prevalent with 10 Gbps connectivity to servers. The demand on networks will increase in 2017, as more and more data is generated, and as businesses ramp up capabilities to keep up with demand.

4. Uncertainty
What remains to be seen is the effect of GDPR and Brexit on data centres. Many companies are already future proofing against compliance issues by building new facilities in the UK, including major players such as IBM and AWS. However, too many are not taking their preparations seriously and risk being left high and dry should compliance laws change.

5. Standards
As the data centre sector continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a lack of industry-wide standards. This is creating confusion for businesses looking to assess or compare different facilities, and putting pressure on data centre providers to ensure companies expectations and reality are aligned.

In 2017 I hope the EN 56000 standards will go some way to create some clarity so businesses are better informed, and expectations can be managed, because at the end of the day, there is no ‘one size fits all’ model when it comes to data centre provisioning.

6. Hybrid cloud
Cloud will continue to be an integral part of IT delivery for businesses in 2017. Within the cloud offering, colocation services still have their place, ensuring data is kept safe and secure. Many businesses are still asking for colocation services from their managed service provider, but also want the scalability and flexibility of public cloud services. This hybrid approach allows companies to move applications into the cloud as and when they are ready, without a cost penalty.

7. Security
Despite the high profile security breaches this year, some companies still don’t seem to be concerned enough about the security of their data, until something happens to it. As the Government will be investing almost £2bn into cyber security over the next five years, its time all businesses took the risks very seriously. We expect to see continued data breaches, hacking scandals and slip-ups in 2017, so it is vital to take security seriously to ensure the next victim is not you.