As the world moves increasingly towards digital integration, the need for data storage is also growing. Whether it is artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), edge technology, or virtual reality (VR), the storage of data is the key. With the introduction of driverless cars and a world moving towards cloud computing, business intelligence (BI), automation, and smart technology, we are looking for data-led solutions for much of our personal and professional lives.
So, what has this got to do with commercial property, I hear you ask. Well, data centres are one of the fastest-growing requirements for commercial property around the world.
What are Data Centres?
Although data itself is not a physical entity, it does need to be stored somewhere. Every time that we do anything in the virtual world, data is generated, and this means that more and more space is needed to be able to store it. This data is stored and used for a wealth of different applications including big data and data analysis.
It is, therefore, essential for the world that we now live in, that we have adequate space for the storage of this data, and this is where data centres come in. Data centres are huge spaces where (mainly) businesses store their data, based on a network of storage solutions and computing.
The Space Requirements for a Data Centre
When it comes to the location of data centres, the main consideration that needs to be made is that there is enough space. Data centres characteristically require huge amounts of physical space to be able to hold the continually expanding amounts of data that is produced. This means that the space that is used as a data centre will normally be in a location where land is relatively low cost compared to prime real estate land.
Data centres generate a lot of heat, meaning that often complex cooling systems are necessary. Often this involves the use of water pipes being used to cool the computing machinery within the data centre. This means that it is better for the space to be spread out on a low level, and this is why most data centres are one storey high, but very large in floor space.
The floor space of data centres is often measured in thousands of square feet.
Other aspects that should be considered include the price of electricity and the quality of the internet that connects to the data centre.
What Does the Rise in Data Centre Demand Mean for Commercial Properties?
The demand for data centre space is one of the only aspects of commercial property that has not been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, if anything, it has been boosted over the past couple of years.
There are several reasons why more and more commercial landlords are considering data centres as a viable option – one of the greatest being that it is an industry that is flourishing and that there is a high demand for them. This is only set to rise as we create and use more and more content, use big data in even small businesses, and look towards the future in driverless cars.
It takes a certain degree of technical knowledge to set up and run a data centre, meaning that it is not that easy to get into. This means that, for those that do manage to, the high demand is unlikely to significantly decrease, resulting in yet more security for those in the sector.
Data centres need to have state-of-the-art cooling systems – preferably that are as eco-friendly as possible as well as have high levels of security to protect the data from security risks.
The Future of Data Centres in the UK
At the moment, sending data that is generated through the operation of a business to a data centre is usually the best option for businesses. It means that someone else is responsible for cooling and security of the data, as well as saving the business space without the need to host servers and data storage solutions.
However, data centres do take up a lot of land space, and it is possible that they will become more localised in the future. It could be that every town has a smaller data centre, or even get to the point that every business holds their own data storage facilities in a similar way to previously when they hosted their own servers in-house.
Another prospect that we are looking at for the future is around the huge amounts of energy that are used and converted to heat during the processes. In a world where energy is increasingly valuable, data centres are looking to not only use green and renewable energy such as wind, solar, or wave energy to power themselves but also to use the heat once that it is generated. Some data centres, for example, are using this heat to pass through to heat nearby houses.
It might be that in the future, these two ideas are combined and businesses will not only store their own digital data but also help to generate their own energy and heat through this process. There will, however, need to be technological advances before this can happen with ease.
Technology will also look at better cooling solutions and more efficient energy solutions, that can reduce the impact of our increasingly growing data use on the planet. Data warehouses that are ‘greener’ are more likely to be successful.
Data centres are increasingly central to the way that the world works today. As our reliance on data and data analysis goes up, this is only likely to result in a higher demand for data centre space. The key factor to having a successful data centre is to have the space and energy to run it properly, and commercial property landlords that can provide this are set to do the best out of everyone in the UK today.
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