Midscale data centres to mirror growth in big end of town

Eaton is betting on more mid-sized data centres coming along, and their need for the same power management tools their larger cousins demand.

Power systems provider Eaton is gearing up to target a growing number of medium-sized data centres.

Craig Gob, managing director of Eaton’s Australian operations, told SearchNetworking that while it’s clear that the top end of the data centre market is still expected to grow, there’s reason to believe this will be paralleled by a growing emerging market in the mid-scale market.

Several factors will drive this, he said, led by virtualisation driving down into medium businesses, and the increasing adoption of cloud solutions in that segment.

Medium businesses that own their own IT infrastructure are beginning to see the same potential benefits in virtualisation as larger companies, and this is driving increasing interest in deploying suitably-scaled data centres, he said.

The increasing adoption of cloud computing in medium businesses is less skewed towards the smaller data centre, since the typical cloud offering is likely to be hosted in a large data centre.

However, he does see an emergence of small, innovative providers targeting the SME. “They develop value propositions on a specialty basis,” he explained. “We believe there will be a need for smaller data centres that provide unique coverage for their target market.”

The midrange of the market is also driven by the need to compete with larger data centres on the basis of reliability and redundancy, he believes. If a data centre owner is seeking to create that redundancy, it will often find it’s better to host smaller data centres in multiple cities than to build a single, larger facility.

That’s particularly true in countries like Australia where, as Gob points out, “there is a lot of geography that needs to be covered.”

In the top end of the market, he said, there’s an increasing focus on the efficiency and reliability of power systems. “The requirement for uptime in large data centres is higher than ever, because of the changing nature of the services being provided.”

Data centres of all kinds are also looking to pack more power into less space, something the company has targeted wit its transformerless 9395 system, he said. “This is especially true in retrofits, where there’s significant existing investment.”

However, both large and medium-sized data centres are finding CBD space increasingly challenging, because power authorities find it more difficult to deliver new power in the constrained infrastructure of an inner city. As a result, Eaton expects to see a continuation of the trend towards suburban or outer-suburban locations for new data centres.

Gob also sees divisions emerging in the purchase decisions made at the top end compared to medium-sized data centres. Up-front cost, he said, is the prime consideration for smaller data centres, whereas “the larger customers have a better understanding of the total cost of ownership. So having solutions that focus on efficiency is important, because larger customers are addressing that first.”

However, as the market accumulates more experience in the operation of medium-scale data centres, Gob believes they will increasingly focus on TCO in their purchase decisions as well.

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