There's been a lot going on in the datacenter world this year and I could probably have written up a nice end-of-the-year top ten list, but I've decided to focus this on something I haven't really talked about all year. It‘s easy to say that the datacenter business is booming due to new technologies, lots of new vendors and products, or even the sales growth of major hardware vendors. All of these items speak well to the growth of the datacenter business.
But what I think is really the best indicator of the health of the datacenter industry is the huge investment being made in dedicated datacenter facilities. Hardware and software purchases, while important to the growth of the datacenter business, are written off quickly by their corporate purchasers. Actually investing in a new building (or purchasing and refurbishing an existing facility) represents a much more forward looking statement. The life of a datacenter facility is considered to be 20 years, which is a major commitment in an industry where cutting edge technology today is completely obsolete in five years.
Much has been made of Apple's billion dollar datacenter project, with pundits chiming in with their thought s on what Apple will be doing with that capacity. There's been plenty of coverage of Facebook's first datacenter that has been highlighted by Greenpeace's misguided assault on the company's energy policy (to the extent that Facebook's second datacenter commitment, which started hiring construction people this week, gets little mention). Microsoft has announced major datacenter expansions and has received approval for the construction of new datacenters in various locations; projects which have gotten little national comment but get lots of local coverage. And these projects are just the tip of the iceberg.
The most cursory web search on new data center construction this year returns thousands of results representing hundreds of projects worldwide. This, more than any other metric, is to me the best indicator that the datacenter business is on track for continued explosive growth in 2011.