Here we are. It’s a new year, and we’ve got a new set of predictions for the data center industry. We’re all here to posit and discover, so what’s in store for the future?

Modern data technologies are difficult to predict because the industry and market as a whole are constantly changing. Just in the past few years, we’ve introduced advanced analytics tools, automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and much more. And with every rollout comes a set of changes that disrupt the landscape.

1. AI Will Continue to Grow and Dominate

2017 was a momentous year for AI and machine learning in the data industry, as nearly everyone invested time and resources into deploying automated systems. Expect to see that continue well into 2018, with new and more advanced hardware offerings launching. Hyperscale data centers, local networks and mobile devices will all benefit.

Some players to watch include Intel’s Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP), NVIDIA’s GPU-based AI setups and a variety of AMD and ARM chips explicitly designed to handle AI processing.

2. Renewable Energy Will See a Boom

Already, data center providers and cloud computing administrators are starting to see the incredible costs and energy consumption of their technologies. Coming up with more efficient yet reliable systems will be a high priority throughout 2018, with renewable energy taking the lead.

Big brands like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple have already shared intentions to source renewable energy for their cloud data centers. Usually, when the big guys do something, the little guys and everyone in-between follows suit.

3. Edge Data Centers Will Rise

No, we’re not saying the cloud bubble has burst, or that the cloud is going away anytime soon, because it’s not. However, it’s apparent that more folks are starting to realize not everything should move to the cloud. Queue Edge computing or Edge Data Centers will become prominent over the next year.

More importantly, a decentralized setup allows for teams and organizations to better address and manage their digital business infrastructure. The volume and velocity of data will grow to considerable amounts, and streaming from the cloud will become more and more inefficient as it does.

Plus, edge computing has some incredible use cases and lots of potential.

4. Data Center Efficiency Will Grow

Renewable energy and a lowered energy footprint combined are just one aspect of turning data centers into more efficient operators. But there are local and hardware investments that can and will be made over the coming year too. We’re talking about AFM, liquid cooling and alternate temperature control methods, microgrids, DCIM and more.

Legacy components will be swapped for all-flash systems or converged. Content and deployed systems will convert to edge and hybrid-based models. Computational fluid dynamics and temperature automation will become more accessible. Even DCIM, which might employ machine learning or virtual cloud systems in some instances, will play a role.

And let’s not forget about microgrids. GTM Research posited in a report that over the next six years $12.5 billion is to be invested in microgrids, and that’s just in the U.S.

5. More Compatible Applications and APIs

Application and service integration is critical for organizations aiming to move existing infrastructures to the cloud or a cloud hybrid. Unfortunately, application adoption and development in this sector can and does experience a lull.

Luckily, APIs or application programming interfaces can help conduct translations, allowing workloads and content to move and convert more freely. Developers are starting to work with and deploy them more than ever before too. That’s a good indication of where the current landscape is headed. Expect to see many more compatible applications enter the space, while others will improve considerably. As a community, we’ve had time to get used to and learn the necessary systems and mechanics. Now we can focus on perfecting and honing the experiences they offer.

As another year begins, the future is definitely looking bright for the world of big data and data center providers that make it all possible.

About the Author

Nathan Sykes writes about business technologies on his blog, Finding an Outlet. To read his latest articles, follow him @nathansykestech.