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Is Your Data Center Ready for the AI and Eco-Conscious Revolution?

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Giordano Albertazzi
Giordano Albertazzi
Chief Executive Officer at Vertiv

Brace for an AI-powered data center frenzy! Vertiv reveals key trends for 2024, from liquid cooling for AI servers to BYOP energy storage. Embrace innovation, navigate sustainability challenges, and thrive in the digital future.

Intense, urgent demand for artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities – and the dueling pressure to reduce energy consumption, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions – loom large over the data center industry heading into 2024. The proliferation of AI (as Vertiv predicted two years ago), along with the infrastructure and sustainability challenges inherent in AI-capable computing, can be felt across the industry and throughout the 2024 data center trends forecast from Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions. 

“AI and its downstream impact on data center densities and power demands have become the dominant storylines in our industry,” said Vertiv CEO Giordano (Gio) Albertazzi. “Finding ways to help customers both support the demand for AI and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is a significant challenge requiring new collaborations between data centers, chip and server manufacturers, and infrastructure providers.”

These are the trends Vertiv’s experts expect to dominate the data center ecosystem in 2024:

AI sets the terms for new builds and retrofits

Surging demand for artificial intelligence across applications is pressuring organizations to change their operations significantly. Legacy facilities are ill-equipped to support widespread implementation of the high-density computing required for AI, with many lacking the infrastructure for liquid cooling.

In the coming year, more organizations will realize that half-measures are insufficient and opt for new construction – increasingly featuring prefabricated modular solutions that shorten deployment timelines – or large-scale retrofits that fundamentally alter their power and cooling infrastructure. Such significant changes present opportunities to implement eco-friendly technologies and practices, including liquid cooling for AI servers, applied in concert with air-cooled thermal management to support the entire data center space.

Expanding the search for energy storage alternatives

New energy storage technologies and approaches have shown the ability to intelligently integrate with the grid and deliver on a pressing objective – reducing generator starts. Battery energy storage systems (BESS) support extended runtime demands by shifting the load as necessary and for longer durations. They can integrate seamlessly with alternative energy sources, such as solar or fuel cells. This minimizes generator use and reduces their environmental impact. BESS installations will be more common in 2024, eventually evolving to fit “bring your power” (BYOP) models and delivering the capacity, reliability, and cost-effectiveness needed to support AI-driven demand. 

Enterprises prioritize flexibility

While cloud and colocation providers aggressively pursue new deployments to meet demand, organizations with enterprise data centers will likely diversify investments and deployment strategies. AI is a factor here as organizations wrestle with how best to enable and apply the technology while meeting sustainability objectives. Businesses may look to on-premise capacity to support proprietary AI and edge application deployments may be impacted by AI tailwinds.

Many organizations can be expected to prioritize incremental investment – leaning heavily on prefabricated modular solutions – and service and maintenance to extend the life of legacy equipment. Such services can provide ancillary benefits, optimizing operations to free up capacity in maxed-out computing environments and increasing energy efficiency. Likewise, organizations can reduce Scope 3 carbon emissions by extending the life of existing servers rather than replacing and scrapping them. 

Also Read: Balancing Growth with Sustainability and Security in AI

The race to the cloud faces security hurdles

Gartner projects global spending on public cloud services to increase by 20.4% in 2024, and the mass migration to the cloud shows no signs of abating. This puts pressure on cloud providers to increase capacity quickly to support demand for AI and high-performance compute, and they will continue to turn to colocation partners worldwide to enable that expansion.

For cloud customers moving more data offsite, security is paramount. According to Gartner, 80% of CIOs plan to increase spending on cyber/information security in 2024. Disparate national and regional data security regulations may create complex security challenges as efforts to standardize continue. 

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