Data center capacity grows amid new challenges

Data center

Data centers are enjoying widespread growth while adapting to increasing complexity and challenges such as evolving efficiency and sustainability requirements, rising outage costs, an ongoing skills shortage, supply chain interruptions and more.

A report released today by the Uptime Institute shows nearly half of owners and operators surveyed report difficulty finding skilled candidates, up from 38 percent in 2018.

It's good news if you work in one though, as 75 percent of respondents believe that most data center professionals have long-term job security. Three out of four owners and operators believe AI will reduce their data center staffing needs at some point, but half think this shift is more than five years away.


While 80 percent of data centers measure power consumption rates and effectiveness, many still are not prioritizing metrics for improving and reporting sustainability. Just 51 percent measure water use in some way, while less than half of respondents say that they track server utilization, only one-third calculate carbon emission levels and just 25 percent track e-waste or equipment lifecycle metrics.

"The 2021 survey results highlight continued growth within the sector and the many complex challenges data center owners and operators are facing today," said Andy Lawrence, executive director of research at the Uptime Institute. "The stakes have never been higher when it comes to outage prevention, environmental sustainability and overall performance. That's why organizations must continue to carefully reassess their mission-critical digital infrastructure and operations to minimize service delivery risk and maximize resiliency."

The number of outages is down, with 69 percent reporting experiencing some form of outage in the past three years, a decrease from 78 percent for the three years to 2020. But while respondents indicate that just over half of all downtime incidents are fleeting and have few consequences, the remaining half cause substantial financial, operational and reputational damage. 62 percent of outages that respondents classified as significant, serious or severe cost more than $100,000 (an increase from 56 percent in 2020), while 15 percent of these outages cost over $1 million.

Power is the most common cause of outages in 2021, followed by cooling failures, software or IT system errors and network issues. The results also show that 79 percent of data center outages involve some form of human error.

The full report is available from the Uptime Institute site.

Photo Credit: Scanrail1/Shutterstock

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