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THE DATA CENTER JOURNAL | 3 A t the micro level, there- fore, the trend in many contexts is toward architectures that em- ploy more than just the CPU, including GPUs, neural-network accelerators and so on. In the middle is the question of who most greatly controls data center design: cloud providers or real-estate providers? ECONOMICS OF DATA CENTER DESIGN Naturally, the chief driver of data center design is economics. Specifi- cally, what are customers demand- ing for their IT dollars? As the Data Center Journal discussed in October 2017 ("IT Budgets: More Stagnant or More Efficient?"), they're demanding more for less: although consump- tion of IT resources is increasing, IT budgets are flat. A comparison of worldwide IT-spending forecasts by analyst firm Gartner shows, for instance, close parallels between 2014 and 2018 estimates. In 2014, Gartner estimated 2013 total spending at $3.67 trillion, 2014 at $3.75 trillion and 2015 at $3.89 trillion. In 2018, it estimated 2017 spending at $3.51 trillion, 2018 at $3.74 trillion and 2019 at $3.85 trillion. Certainly, the ever increasing demand for service would lead one to expect spending growth, but that expectation has failed to materialize for years, if the Gartner estimates are any indication. But why in such a hot market, and in a presumably recover- ing economy, would forecasts of strong spending growth miss so oen? e cloud seems to be a major reason. e economics of scale allow cloud providers to deliver services cheaper and more efficiently than if customers all implemented these services themselves. And one sec- tor where IT spending appears to be increasing is data center systems. According to Gartner, spending in this sector has grown steadily, if at a moderate pace. In 2014, it forecast worldwide spending on data center systems at $140 billion for that year; in 2018, it forecast $188 billion for nearly an 8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Forecasts are always subject to adjustment, but if these numbers are close to the mark, data center expenditures are rising even if IT budgets are flat. e cause is likely greater efficiency of service provision thanks in part to consolidation of data centers among fewer (and oen larger) providers and the resulting economies of scale. Combined with the growing move to the cloud, this trend suggests data center design is increasingly in the hands of cloud-service providers— or those companies that provide data center space to cloud providers. CLOUD PROVIDERS VS. REAL- ESTATE PROVIDERS? Focusing in from a high-level look at IT spending reveals either competition or cooperation for design leadership between cloud-service providers and data center real-estate providers. Cloud providers may create and deliver IT services to custom- ers, but they needn't always bear the brunt of physical design. ey also can outsource many responsibilities, and real-estate providers can play a complementary rather than competi- tive role in this regard. As the cloud market comprises a larger piece of the IT-resource pie, the demands of cloud providers will have greater sway over data center real-estate providers, so design will continue to depend on their needs. But the real-estate provid- ers will still have to make decisions about how best to deliver power and The growing use of cloud computing has influenced data center design from the macro level to the micro level. At the macro level, it has led to consolidation as companies seek to outsource duties that are peripheral to their central business—often including large portions of IT. But the cloud still needs data centers to provide services, and the more efficiently they operate their facilities, the potentially greater their profit margins.

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