Author: Ilissa Miller 

The future of digital infrastructure in 2024 and beyond is set to be shaped by a confluence of trends and technological advancements, offering a glimpse into the forthcoming developments. As businesses and organizations navigate this evolving landscape, several key themes are poised to intertwine, underscoring the transformative nature of the digital infrastructure ecosystem.

One of the challenges the industry has faced is bridging the digital divide. For companies like Empire Access, who have been connecting residents and businesses since 1896, this is an old – yet new – problem we have.  According to the company’s VP of Sales, Bob VanDelinder, “Bridging the connectivity gap is imperative and presents new opportunities for businesses in rural areas, which will lead to the expansion of rural broadband efforts.”

Connectivity is king – especially in a world where cloud computing is paramount to business success.  With cloud computing expected to play a central role, global expenditure on cloud computing infrastructure is projected to surpass $1 trillion. The adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud solutions is gaining momentum as organizations seek to balance security and flexibility, enabling them to tailor services to their specific needs. This shift underscores the growing importance of cloud-based infrastructure in supporting resilient digital services and experiences.

As a matter of fact, companies like Colohouse are working with customers to help them build for a digital future by laying a digital foundation that connects their customers with impactful technology solutions and services through a full suite of solutions, up the stack. The company’s managed data center and cloud infrastructure capabilities, paired with key edge locations and reliable connectivity allow their customers to confidently scale their application and data while optimizing for cost, performance, and security. Jeremy Pease, CEO of Colohouse is keeping a close eye on power and land constraints, particularly in dense metropolitan areas, since the future digital expansion will need to expand to secondary markets for businesses to thrive.

From other perspectives, Duncan Puller, Managing Director, Strategy and Product at DāSTOR, which provides enterprise-focused, hybrid colocation solutions believes that while cloud computing is central to enterprise digital transformation, it is also costly, commenting, “Repatriation is here and is the future of cloud, with efforts to minimize costs and improve workload effectiveness continuing to push advancements in private cloud and colocation.” As such, his company, DāSTOR, offers a variety of products and services to help companies manage their data including security, reliability, and cleanliness (consider how many duplicate files are on a company’s cloud instances and you can see the digital bits of money already flying out the door!).

Furthermore, the democratization of transformative capabilities through AI as-a-Service is set to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of digital infrastructure. The synergy between dark fiber and the burgeoning fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is expected to create a paradigm shift in digital connectivity and data processing, reflecting the interconnected nature of AI and digital infrastructure.

Companies like DC BLOX are fortifying digital infrastructure foundations from data centers to cable landing states to highly robust, unique dark fiber routes to increase capacity, ensure diversity and to transport and exchange data for the booming AI-era. Jeff Uphues, CEO of DC BLOX believes that “Hyperscalers and enterprises will increasingly turn to dark fiber to keep pace with their rapidly growing capacity demands.” In part for security, control and scalability – the key benefits of dark fiber assets.

In the Midwest, Crosstown Fiber, an owner, operator and developer of a dark fiber telecommunications network servicing state, local, educational, and commercial customers in the great Chicago market is also bearing down to support AI-transport needs. According to CEO, Mike Underdown, “the synergy between dark fiber and the burgeoning fields of AI and ML will create a paradigm shift in digital connectivity and data processing.”

As organizations embark on digital transformation efforts, understanding the best practices and potential challenges becomes integral to realizing the full potential of these initiatives. Digital transformation is projected to create substantial societal and industrial value, with estimates suggesting a potential value of $100 trillion by 2025. This is inclusive of traditional colocation and bare metal capabilities, which, according to Evocative’s CEO, Derek Garnier, “Colocation and bare metal will continue to grow in priority over the public cloud because of the security and privacy of on-site infrastructure; in other words, the pendulum is swinging back to traditional colocation.” Most folks call it a repatriation from the cloud back to colocation, others are calling it a sensible solution to bloating costs associated with hosting applications in the cloud.

While data center solutions (and colocation) are important, the shift to expanding capabilities in light of the ongoing needs of AI technology will continue to put pressure on operators.  According to Craig Huffman, the co-founder and CEO of Metro Edge Development Partners, a data center developer in Chicago with full rights to build a five-story data center in the Illinois Medical District, he says that “Data center operators will be required to adapt and expand their computing capabilities to handle the complex demands of AI technology.” Whether this means implementing solutions like digital twins, to enhancing connectivity and cloud onramps to services and capabilities such as ecosystem platform opportunities – the future is at our fingertips.

In summary, the future of digital infrastructure in 2024 and beyond is characterized by a convergence of cloud computing, AI, and digital transformation leveraging dark fiber, colocation and data center services, all of which are poised to reshape the way organizations approach and leverage their digital infrastructure. As these trends continue to unfold, businesses and technology leaders will need to adapt and innovate to harness the full potential of the evolving digital infrastructure landscape.