Data Center Count Shrinks As The Big Get Bigger
October 15, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
So how many data centers, server rooms, and data closets do you think there are in the United States? You guess maybe 20,000? Maybe 100,000? Try 2.94 million, at least according to the box counters at IDC.
This is a much larger number than you might expect, and considering there are tens of millions of small businesses in the U.S., maybe you were guessing the number should be larger. But I was surprised that the number was more than a couple hundred thousand myself, assuming that most businesses did as I did for many years, which is tuck a server under their desk, or what I do now, which is use hosted servers and let someone else manage the security and backup nightmares.
According to research done by IDC, the Great Recession caused a mini-wave of consolidation, with companies closing thousands of remote locations with their own server rooms and data closets. In 2009, the number of data centers dropped by seven-tenths of a point even as the aggregate data center capacity installed in that smaller number of data centers fells by 1 point. And this trend is continuing as the great Recession lingers on (government statistics notwithstanding). IDC says that the 2.94 million data centers in use in 2012 had a total capacity of 611.4 million square feet of floor space, and even as the number of data centers is expected to continue to shrink to 2.89 million by 2016, the aggregate floor space in those data centers is expected to rise to 700 million square feet.
Ironically, server virtualization has kept the floor space requirements from rising as fast as many might have projected, but storage requirements are exploding–some might say are out of control–and that is driving up floor space needs.
The other big shift is toward service providers and away from corporate-owned data centers as companies embrace “the cloud.” IDC is projecting that by 2016, more than a quarter of the data center floor space in the United States will be owned by service providers.