JLL: Global data center market to flourish in 2017

by Brianna Crandall — February 1, 2017 — According to global financial and professional services firm JLL’s new Data Center Outlook, massive movement of data from private corporate servers to cloud-based solutions, the public’s obsession with watching online videos, and a growing corporate thirst for Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives are some of the factors pushing corporate demand for data centers worldwide. With data consumption skyrocketing, some major cloud providers are anticipating the need to triple their infrastructure by 2020.

JLL’s report also notes that while data center demand is strong, industry growth could be tempered by external risks such as foreign currency exchange fluctuations, rising interest rates, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) disruptions, and policy shifts.

Bo Bond, managing director and Data Center Solutions co-lead, JLL, pointed out:

The data centers market is very fluid, but a few things are certain. Cloud adoption is soaring, technology innovation will not slow down, data center portfolios are consolidating, and rack densities are ascending rapidly. Companies needed to start their strategic planning yesterday to have any prospect of staying ahead.

Cloud adoption and evolving user demands alter the data center footprint

According to the report, promising new technologies from the big three cloud providers, coupled with the expansion of the IoT, are nudging more business leaders to the cloud. JLL anticipates swifter movement to the cloud so the industry’s hub markets, from Silicon Valley and Northern Virginia to London and Tokyo, will force cloud service providers into expansion mode.

In 2017, data center lease negotiations are expected to be more complex. Data center footprints are being reconfigured across the map, with each lease representing an opportunity for data center users to capitalize on hybrid cloud technology, as well as restructuring / right-sizing their colocation footprint. Meanwhile, demand for space at the “Edge” of the network, in lower tier, yet still highly populated markets, will still remain active, offering access to consumers outside the traditional core markets.

Shifting policy and economic trends spark new questions

The new U.S. presidential administration creates some uncertainty for the industry’s future. Anticipated energy cost reductions and regulatory oversight could potentially help alleviate the costs of delivering more capacity.

Data center leaders are also investigating the potential impact of new federal mandates for data center optimization, including energy metering and power usage effectiveness (PUE) requirements that must be met by the end of 2018. Cost-saving and efficiency measures can be meaningful for the industry, which consumed roughly 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014 alone.

Meanwhile, stricter data sovereignty laws are creating complexities for the industry globally. For example, mandates for Canadian companies to store their data on Canadian soil could drastically change the level of data moved to the Canadian cloud. Additionally, European data centers continue to grapple with the still-unknown impact of Brexit, which will not be fully realized until London’s data center industry is formally removed from the European Union in 2019.

High stakes M&A activity leading to industry consolidation

M&A deals surged in 2016, a trend that is on pace to continue through 2017. As well-known providers set their bidding sights on colocation companies, the race is beginning to fall to a few key players, such as Equinix and Digital Realty, according to the report.

Industry leaders will be far better positioned for future success than new or emerging players. As interest in hyperscale sites goes up alongside the need for faster, better technology, users are becoming less likely to trust newcomers to the providers’ scene.

Jon Meisel, managing director and Data Center Solutions market director, JLL, concluded:

User demand for smart data center solutions will only continue to heat up, with operators feeling the pressure to deliver more data, faster and more flexibly than ever. Smart maneuvering will be necessary for users and operators alike to flourish in the coming months.

For more insights on the outlook for the data center industry in 2017, download Data Center 2017 Outlook: A Wave of Global Momentum from JLL with a brief registration.