Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, May 26, 2024

Hot Demand for Hyperscale Data Centers Hampered by Skills Gap 

Soaring demand for hyperscale data centers and colocation services is having a ripple effect within the value chain that builds and integrates those services, a new survey finds.

As edge deployments and software-defined infrastructure drove overall hyperscale data center spending last year to an estimated $120 billion, the survey released by Schneider Electric notes that growing demand also highlights continuing skills gap. The ongoing skilled labor shortage was the top challenge across the data center ecosystem, according to the survey released on Monday (Oct. 14).

“Hyperscale has fundamentally transformed the data center market. Its scale and complexity have had a similarly profound impact on what we call the ‘value chain,’ the ecosystem of people involved in bringing such immense capacity to life,” said Frank Nash, Schneider Electric’s senior director of secure power.

Most of the data center ecosystem—81 percent of those infrastructure suppliers polled—believe the ongoing shift to hyperscale data centers will boost their business prospects, the survey found. As the amount of data, distributed applications and other real-time capabilities emerge, infrastructure vendors also reported growing pressure to complete projects on tighter schedules. Those pressures have exacerbated a skills shortage while raising concerns over data center security.

The Schneider Electric (OTCMKTS: SBGSY) survey squares with other market forecasts of explosive growth in hyperscale data centers, an increase driven in large part by the skyrocketing data volumes and heightened demand for cloud-based analytics tools and databases.

Synergy Research Group recently reported the number of hyperscale data centers has reached more than 430, with another 132 planned. About 40 percent of major cloud and Internet data center sites are based in the U.S., it said.

The market tracker previously forecast that global traffic in cloud data centers would reach 19.5 zettabytes annually by 2021. Using another metric, market analyst IDC pegged the sum of the world’s data—the "datasphere"—at 175 zettabytes by 2025.

Those projections along with their ripple effect on data center builders and technical consultants are combining to create what the Schneider Electric study concludes is an “hyperscale inflection point in the data center value chain.”

The trick for these vendors will be finding enough trained personnel to handle the coming wave of AI applications. Those application are likely to include new tools for automating data center operations.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).