When we look around at today’s technology and digital transformation landscape, it seems like the Metaverse and related futuristic tools like 5G (or even 6G) and XR have become the poster children for what is hot and where the global trends are headed. It’s true that these eagerly-awaited applications are giving us new glimpses into just how far technology can take us (in both our personal and professional lives) — or maybe they’re even beginning to show their value across a host of verticals. After all, hospitals and manufacturing floors are in the initial stages of adopting extended reality opportunities, and IoT options are continuing to expand in the consumer market. In fact, the number of IoT devices worldwide is expected to nearly triple by 2030, reaching an astronomical total of 29 billion devices (up from just 9.7 billion in 2020). The Metaverse itself has the potential to generate a whopping $5 trillion in value by 2030.
However, beyond these popularized banners of innovation (and the promises of expanded revenue, experience, and opportunity they hold) waits a laundry list of considerations. These critical infrastructure considerations, without proper attention, have the ability to limit advantages from technologies like the Metaverse, or even stall our progress toward their full adoption and accessibility.
As we look to position this new wave of technology and applications for success of the highest degree, there are a few trends that will remain at the forefront of all progress toward our shared technological end goal. Ultimately, the best user experiences and the most advantageous operational results will come from keeping a wary eye on items like cloud and connectivity — and the conversations, customizations, and calculations that surround them.
#1: FLIPPING THE SCRIPT ON DATA CENTER DEPLOYMENTS AND MEASUREMENT
With the rising demands from end users for better, more efficient, higher quality results and experiences, organizations of all shapes and sizes are continuing their quests for IT frameworks that can deliver. So, while businesses are feeling the urge to accelerate digital transformations, that pressure to perform is undoubtedly trickling down to the data center providers and other critical infrastructure partners. After all, an organization can only perform as well as its network and data framework allows — and they’ll be looking to the experts to provide the right solutions for every unique use case and requirement.
Ultimately, there’s a lot for organizations to be aware of when they’re trying to keep up with a competitive market and a fast-moving technology landscape, and every organization will tackle this slightly differently. However, there are some common threads revealed in the recent shift many data center operators have likely seen in their conversations with tenants. Some of those themes are an increased focus on efficiency (and sustainability too), and a need for even regional data centers to have a global game plan to enable scaling footprints in a remote work-heavy, highly mobile era. Furthermore, the emphasis on more sophisticated measurement is quickly becoming key. Overall, we’re facing a new realm of more complex, global demands that call for a new type of conversation. For instance, customers are looking past traditional PUEs and asking ‘what about carbon?’ When it comes to efficiency, more customers want greater granularity and insight. Are you measuring by floor? By cage? By cabinet? All of this to say: The same table stakes that the critical infrastructure operators relied on during the old annual outage-focused reviews will no longer suffice, and the focus is being put heavily on showing progress.
As we head into 2023 and beyond, paving the way for even more successful technological applications like the Metaverse and 5G/6G starts with more control and care at the data center level. That increased care and control starts with a provider’s ability to communicate. Of course, in terms of metrics, that communication must start at the industry level, and we’re likely to see a growing conversation around how to replace or augment outdated measurement styles across the data center sphere in years to come. In the meantime though, having the clear data that exhibits progress toward key customer goals and a ‘geek that can speak’ to connect the dots will be key to retaining trust and promoting digital transformations.
#2: WHAT’S DRIVING YOUR CONNECTIVITY STRATEGY?
The importance of connectivity is impossible to overstate — especially now, when latency-sensitive applications like the Metaverse, AI, and IoT rule the day. Speed, proximity to the user, reduced jitter and lag are paramount. So, when organizations look to maintain their momentum in the adoption and promotion of these advanced technologies, success hinges on one question: How are you strategically procuring and deploying your connectivity infrastructure?
Admittedly, it’s a tough question that doesn’t have an exact right or wrong answer, especially when there are so many goals and challenges that today’s demands put on any connectivity strategy. Still, there is one guiding principle that can help: Data gravity.
Data gravity is now a relatively common idea, but its implications have been contested across assorted conversations. Some say it’s a hindrance to crucial mobility, others say that, when looked at through a different lens, it can yield unique advantages for IT footprints. Both perspectives share the thought that, like it or not, this gravitational pull of workloads, applications, and data is changing the shape of the connectivity landscape.
If we look at the common definition of data gravity, it tells us that this principle is the ability of a body to attract applications, services, and the like. From this perspective, it seems like it can be harnessed as a force of good within a given digital transformation because it reveals where the most high-value hubs are. Think about it this way: If a data center or connectivity hub is rich in data gravity, then that means any organization with a presence in that ecosystem will benefit from high-value peers, partners, and platforms congregating there. In essence, connectivity opportunities will come to the organization — not the other way around. With this in mind, in 2023 we just might see a shift in attitude from data gravity as friction on the changing IT ecosystem to data gravity as a marker of where businesses can position themselves for greater network reach and resilience.
#3: CUSTOMIZATION IS KING
It won’t be a surprise to many to say that, in most cases, a one-size-fits-all solution is rarely what’s best for an individual organization’s digital transformation. In fact, the cookie-cutter approach to IT framework adoption is what eventually created a cloud repatriation trend, since organizations begin to realize that the pure public cloud advantages they were sold on may not actually work to their benefit for all workloads. The trend for technology adoption across different verticals, business sizes, and operational goals is creating more differentiated requirements, which ultimately calls for more IT solution specialization.
In the cloud, we’ll start to see more tailoring and more switches to hybrid platforms that enable businesses to right-size their solutions for different workloads. That means they’ll also be looking for data centers that are prepared to handle unique cloud connections, so having a multitude of on-ramps to the most in-demand partners and platforms will be necessary. But this custom connectivity will extend beyond links to the cloud as well, and peering will continue to be a sought-after solution to traditional woes around third-party transit systems. As a result, the internet exchange will be the option to beat, since it offers organizations more control about how they connect, how they move their data, and more. Not to mention, this control will be key for enabling the all-important speed and reduced latency that will make applications across the Metaverse and beyond as rich and reliable as possible.
Of course, there will be a host of other important factors to consider as we all look to optimize our operations and keep pace with new and tricky demands, all in pursuit of an expanded, immersive, wholly empowered technological future. Still, it will always come back to the core tenants of how we’re managing and providing connections to the most crucial platforms and locations, even as those endpoints diversify and proliferate.