10 Years: eco Datacenter Expert Group


From Working Group to Expert Network – An Outlook on the Industry’s Future

The eco Datacenter Expert Group can now look back on ten extremely successful years. Established as the Datacenter Working Group on 8 November 2007 by Patrick Pulvermüller, SVP Head of GoDaddy EMEA, the committee set itself the goal of promoting an open and confidential exchange of information between data center operators, planners, and manufacturers.

On the occasion of its 10-year anniversary, we talked to initiator Patrick Pulvermüller and the two Competence Group leaders – Dr. Béla Waldhauser, CEO of Telehouse Deutschland, and Marc Wilkens, proRZ Rechenzentrumsbau GmbH – about the developments of recent years and asked about their prognosis for the future of the industry.

Which technological developments has the data center industry experienced in the last 10 years?

Patrick Pulvermüller: The “direct free cooling” of data centers gained acceptance over the course of the decade. Efficiency is still a core issue which preoccupies the data center industry, even in 2017. An integrated approach – incorporating the servers – has led to even higher efficiency. Open source designs are increasingly influencing the industry.

Dr. Béla Waldhauser: The data center infrastructure (electricity and cooling) has become far more efficient, at considerably lower loads. The data center providers are now developing their infrastructure on a more modular basis.   This means that, with optimized load, the efficiency also increases. Customers are more and more willing to invest in cold and/or hot aisle containment, which is further boosting the efficiency of cooling. The same applies to a willingness to accept higher temperatures in the cold aisle.

Marc Wilkens: In the ICT sector, we have witnessed a growing trend towards virtualization and the use of blade technology. This is resulting in higher power densities (electric power capacity per rack). In the area of data center infrastructure, the trend towards new innovative cooling concepts (containment, higher temperatures in the server room and in cold water, more “free cooling”) has continued. Modular UPS concepts have gained in importance. Overall, it is fair to say that, for companies, a “multi-site strategy” for their data centers is playing a greater role from the point of view of availability and energy efficiency. The data centers reciprocally create redundancy. The prerequisite here is that the cables between the data center locations are physically redundant and have sufficient capacity.

How have the markets continued to develop over the past 10 years? What do customers today want from a competent colo-/hosting service provider?

Patrick Pulvermüller: Three points: Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility – customers demand the know-how required to make hybrid setups (colo, hosting, public cloud) possible. Data center designs are therefore tailored even more closely to the actual usage profile.

Dr. Béla Waldhauser: The large colo providers in particular are increasingly opting for standardization of their infrastructure. Overall, the caliber (of technology, personnel, processes) has risen further. Customers expect significantly more from certifications (and not just an ISO 9001). The number of internal and external audits has increased. The large colo operators are now part of the critical infrastructure of the Federal Republic of Germany. Over the past 20 years, the “carrier-hotels” have increasingly become “cloud hotels.” The different business models of cloud providers mean that colo operators must also become significantly more flexible. Concerning consolidation: here the markets are dominated by a few large providers. Since Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal, Germany has become “attractive” again for the major US cloud providers. In Germany, Frankfurt in particular has experienced huge growth rates in the colo business with cloud providers.

Marc Wilkens: Customers want overarching know-how on the different sub-disciplines for secure and efficient IT operations: IT hardware, IT software, IT service management, data center building automation, information security management (ISMS e.g. compliant with ISO 27001), etc.

Where do you see the greatest future challenge for your industry?

Patrick Pulvermüller: The wave of consolidation in recent years will concentrate the market on a few global providers – with all the advantages and disadvantages that this entails. On top of that, we are seeing increasing regulatory requirements in all countries around the world. The growth is no longer taking place in the western markets. Finally, more and more “hyperscalers” are starting to produce their own “silicon,” designed for special IT workloads. This could lead to completely new, completely contained systems.

Dr. Béla Waldhauser: The process of consolidation will continue. This means that the market will be dominated by a small number of global suppliers. I would also expect a disproportionately high surge in growth to occur in the next few years, driven by Cloud, IoT, Smart City, Smart Home, Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, etc.
 We will also see an increase in internal and external audits and process requirements, and the like. It is only a matter of time until we also have a data center campus boasting a capacity of at least 100 MW (a hyperscaler data center) in Germany. So-called “edge data centers” will complement the large data centers. The shortage of specialist workers will become a problem.

Marc Wilkens: The biggest challenge will be the integration and close coordination of IT management and data center facility management. Two fundamentally different worlds will have to collaborate closely in the future and must initially find a language that they can both speak. Here, the interfaces between information security management based on ISO 27001 and the new data center standard EN 50600 offer good starting-points.