Digital infrastructure is a multi-trillion-dollar industry, and it’s growing rapidly.
Over the past few years especially, we’ve witnessed countless reminders of why we’re facing an ever-increasing dependency on this industry. From staying connected through a global pandemic to ensuring continuity and commercial growth beyond it in healthcare, education, business, finance, and transportation, all sectors of society rely on reliable, secure, and high-performing digital infrastructure. While all elements of this industry are society-critical, there’s one in particular that drives our economy and fuels its development more than anything else: data centers.
In our feature story, Buddy Rizer and Vinay Nagpal provide their perspectives on the global data center landscape and interview various leaders from different parts of the world.
Even professionals with a deep understanding of the Internet may not be familiar with Sir Tim Berners-Lee. While working at a physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, Berners-Lee noticed scientists were challenged to share information, so he began to brainstorm a solution. By March 1989, he laid out a vision for what he would call the “World Wide Web” in a document titled “Information Management: A Proposal.”
Many years later, the web truly is “worldwide.” Internet usage is almost universal, with adoption rates of 91 percent in North America, 87 percent in Europe, and 73 percent in Asia Pacific. Mobile phone subscription and user rates are even higher, at more than 90 percent.
From our personal lives to our business lives, data is also everywhere. The rapid growth of new architectures (e.g. cloud, edge, and Hybrid IT), new technologies (e.g. Internet of Things, machine learning), new services (e.g. in connectivity, compute, virtualization, security, storage, and applications), and new policies (on local, regional, and global scales) is creating an unprecedented demand for scalable solutions that will not only support such a massive data influx, but also enable people and businesses to leverage its power.
In order to meet this current and future worldwide demand, digital infrastructure from fiber to data centers is being built out at a rapid pace. In 2022, the global data center market was valued at 279.53 billion USD, and by 2023, this number is expected to more than double to 565.49 billion USD. Of course, even with such opportunity ripe for seizing, rapid evolution isn’t going to happen without growing pains. From a logistical standpoint, construction and maintenance costs for data centers are astronomical, and finding, retaining, and upskilling personnel can be tricky in a quickly changing environment. Furthermore, in terms of sustainability, the vast amount of electricity and cooling this infrastructure requires could raise carbon emissions in a time where reducing them is top of mind for everyone.
In an effort to understand the current situation, we spoke to data center leaders from six continents to get their input on how and why data centers are the growth engines of the digital economy—and what we can expect to see in this part of the digital infrastructure industry going forward.