15 Feb 2023
The shift to cloud computing has been one of the most significant tech trends in recent times. Whilst running and owning your own comms room used to be the norm, the amount of businesses running software on conventional, on-premise servers is roughly half of what it was in 2019.
Cloud computing on the other hand is booming. As a resident of Slough you become pretty used to the sight and ambient noise of data centres and you can tell the industry, and cloud especially is soaring.
Ofcom currently predicts the industry to be worth £15 billion and almost half of all server sales are destined for the hyperscalers. Interestingly, the data centre market has become so integral to the UK’s economy that Ofcom are looking to heighten regulations around cloud computing to ensure a more level playing field. It will be intriguing to see what this brings and the impact it creates.
However, although the concept of cloud computing has remained very much in vogue, not many people realise its origins go back to the Second World War. Once computer mainframes accessible via dial-up connections came into fruition, followed by hyperscalers setting up cloud divisions, the cloud computing market and derivatives thereof, have been steadily expanding.
Fast forward to 2023 and demand for all things cloud has accelerated, driven, in part, by the Covid-19 pandemic, the advent of hybrid working and an insatiable desire by the public sector especially to go ‘cloud first’. This dramatic shift has also meant that data centre operators have had to operate agile business models. Firstly, developing Built-to-Suit propositions and secondly, doubling down on sustainability efforts – primarily tokeep abreast of demands and provide the computing resources necessary to power huge volumes of data, sustainably.
This thriving industry, however, is also attracting the attention of environmental activists, with data centres often finding themselves at odds with them because of their total power consumption and their perceived impact on climate change. According to industry research, data centres account for around 3% of global energy consumption and projections indicate that this figure will exceed 14% by 2040. At Kao Data we are continually pushing the boundaries on sustainability and genuinely doing everything we can do to ensure our operations are responsible and cloud operators can count us as a positive influence within their Scope 3 supply emissions.
Many of the challenges surrounding power consumption and carbon emissions aren’t just restricted to sustainability, however. The industry is flourishing to such an extent that national media outlets have reported serious concerns about power outages across the UK and especially here in Slough and West London – a topic we’ve recently dispelled in this blog.
And while data centre blackouts would undoubtedly present serious economic, geopolitical and security risks, the National Grid has worked tirelessly to ensure operational continuity. The above being said, issues surrounding capacity constraints and access to green energy will only become more exacerbated as data centre and other large consumers of power continue to grow at such an unprecedented pace – unless, of course, there is a total re-think in how we utilise energy, and where we procure it from.
Cloud computing, like any technical discipline, is constantly evolving and the term has begun to cover so much more than data storage, management and processing. The cloud phenomenon is transforming the mindset of innovation itself, bringing about disruptive approaches and accelerating progress in new areas such as Cloud-Native development, edge computing, and serverless infrastructure. All these disciplines impact the data centre sector due to the types of facilities and the real time processing power that’s required.
One of the great pleasures of my job is I’m always learning. I’ve had the enjoyment of working closely with some major players within the hyperscale cloud industry over the last few years as we redevelop KLON-06, our data centre in Slough. These discussions have always been enlightening and have made me appreciate the added complexity and decision making that is often behind the scenes of our favourite clouds - helping ensure all the things we use that pull on their cloud resources, works seamlessly.