The importance of power
The availability of power remains the single most important factor driving data centre choice amongst our respondents, with nearly three-quarters citing this as their number one driving choice in our latest survey. This represents an increase on the 62% who did so last winter. Indeed, amongst our developer and investor respondents the ability to have access to a secure and economic power source is rated even more highly, with around 85% placing it first.
The Skills shortage
One factor which has become more popular is the availability of specialist data centre construction skills which is cited by around 7% of our respondents as the top ranked factor, more than double the 3% seen six months previously, providing some evidence of a potential skills gap growing in the industry. Interestingly, for our developer and investor respondents, following power availability, skills availability is the second most highly rated factor and sits ahead of the total build-out cost and land price.
Location, Location, Location
Location remains as the second most popular factor, with just over half of all respondents ranking it at least in their top two choices, up from 40% six months ago and back close to the long-term tracking average. The proportion of respondents choosing it as their top choice stands at 16% a proportion largely unchanged over the past three surveys and perhaps unsurprising bearing in mind the proliferation of Edge computing, a concept based on strategic data centre locations.
The political and social landscape
Over the past few years Political/social stability has become increasingly more highly ranked by respondents. This may well reflect the unease felt across several European political and social landscapes as well as the wider global platform. The UK’s exit from the European Union, for example has been a significant economic and political shift, with the fall-out on several major issues still uncertain and perhaps masked by the on-going focus on COVID-19. Long standing political differences in the Middle East have re-surfaced recently and doubts exist over the roll-out of a global vaccination programme in response to the COVID-19 pandemic creating further uncertainties. Just over a quarter of respondents have cited this social and political instability as one of their top two ranked factors, whilst this is below the jump to 45%, we reported six months ago, it is substantially above the long-term average.
These findings raise concerns that the continued confidence in future demand levels in the datacentre sector could be hampered by the challenges around the availability of power and people – and both are real challenges.
The fortunes of the data centre industry are inextricably linked to the ability to source and utilise power in the most efficient and cost-effective manner and the delivery of sufficient new stock reliant on having sufficiently qualified professionals available to the industry. As the total amount of data created, captured and consumed in the world is forecast to continue to increase exponentially, few would argue against the importance of the need for a secure, flexible and efficient data centre infrastructure platform to house it. The question is can we overcome the inherent challenges?
You can download the full BCS report, TECHNOLOGY & POWER: THE ENERGY CONUNDRUM : https://www.bcs.uk.com/technology-power-the-energy-conundrum-summer-2021/