By Craig Huffman, Co-Founder & CEO, Metro Edge Development Partners
Posted on VMblog.com
As 2023 draws to a close, the digital infrastructure landscape braces for transformative changes. The coming year, 2024, is poised for significant shifts driven by AI’s expansion into uncharted territories, heightened security risks due to the blurring of data-sharing boundaries, and fundamental changes in data center designs to support increasing AI power demands. These trends indicate a year rich in technological advancements, reshaping power management, cooling systems, and data security to cater to evolving customer needs.
Prediction 1: AI Computing’s Boundless Expansion
The upcoming year is expected to witness AI computing breaking new ground in its application and influence across diverse sectors. The integration of AI into various industries is likely to proceed at an accelerated pace, driven by continual advancements in AI technologies. This expansion is set to foster innovation and necessitate significant enhancements in data processing and analysis capabilities. As AI finds its way into more areas of business and society, the demand for advanced data processing capabilities will surge, requiring data centers to evolve and adopt new technologies to efficiently manage the increased computational load.
In this rapidly changing landscape, companies and organizations will need to swiftly adapt their strategies and operational methodologies to fully harness the benefits of AI. As stated in a report by JLL, half of all cloud data centers are projected to use AI by 2025. This involves leveraging AI for enhanced efficiency and innovation and preparing infrastructure, particularly data centers, to handle the increasingly complex demands of AI technologies. As AI applications become more sophisticated, they will require more robust data handling capabilities, underscoring the need for advanced data center infrastructure.
Prediction 2: Heightened Security Challenges in an AI-Driven World
The expansion of AI in 2024 will likely significantly increase security risks, as the boundary between private and public data becomes increasingly blurred. This trend is particularly concerning in sectors handling sensitive data. This uptick in security risks will require a corresponding evolution in data center security measures. Enhanced security will become imperative to protect against data breaches and cyber threats. Consequently, there will be a growing demand for data centers to implement sophisticated security systems that can adapt to these evolving threats.
Prediction 3: Transformative Evolution in Data Center Design
As AI applications demand more power, traditional data center designs will no longer sufficiently support required power supplies. In 2024, we expect to see a shift towards data centers capable of supporting significantly higher power outputs, specifically designs that can handle 50+ kW instead of the traditional 5-10 kW.
This shift necessitates innovation in both design and operation of data centers. According to Dirk Naylor from Wesco, as quoted by Data Center Dynamics, data center demand is projected to reach 35 gigawatts by 2030, up from 17 gigawatts in 2022. The challenge operators will face is to manage these higher power loads while maintaining energy efficiency and minimizing environmental impact. Sustainable design principles will be key, alongside the adoption of advanced technologies for energy management and cooling systems.
Prediction 4: The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Data Centers
The digital infrastructure landscape in 2024 will be shaped by emerging technologies such as Direct Liquid Cooling (DLC) and high-density cabinets. These technologies directly address the increased cooling and efficiency demands posed by AI-driven applications by enhancing data center efficiency and catering to the power and cooling requirements of these applications. The adoption of Open Compute Project (OCP) models, especially by midsize companies, represents a shift towards modular and scalable data center solutions that are essential for accommodating the rapid advancements and evolving needs of AI applications.
As the digital infrastructure industry embarks on 2024, it faces a transformative period marked by AI’s rapid growth, evolving data security needs, and the revolution in data center designs. In a period of technological revolution for the industry, the role of companies like Metro Edge Development Partners becomes illustrative of the industry’s adaptation. Their focus on integrating technology-driven solutions in real estate development mirrors the broader shift towards infrastructure that meets the advanced demands of an AI-integrated era. This evolution highlights a pivotal moment in digital infrastructure development, showcasing how organizations navigate the challenges and opportunities of a technologically progressive future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Craig K. Huffman is a veteran of real estate private equity with nearly two decades of experience as an entrepreneur. Most recently, he served as Co-Founder and Principal of Ascendance Partners, a Chicago-based real estate private equity firm established in 2006 and focused on commercial real estate investments in metropolitan Chicago. Ascendance was an early sponsor of institutional investment funds that acquired real estate in economically underserved communities of Chicago and has sponsored real estate funds for foundations, endowments, pension funds, family offices and high net worth individuals. Notable Ascendance investors have included Bank of America, PNC Community Development Company, LLC, the Retirement Plan for Chicago Transit Authority Employees’ Trust and the University of Notre Dame. Prior to Ascendance, Huffman worked in diverse senior management roles in the sectors of entrepreneurship, education, non-profit and politics. Huffman serves on numerous philanthropic boards and is an advisor and investor for several emerging minority entrepreneurs. He holds a B.A. from Morehouse College and a master’s degree and MBA from the University of Chicago.
Published Friday, December 15, 2023 7:32 AM by David Marshall