1. The Rise of Decentralized Colocation Colocation has long been a mixed bag. Even with data centres offering colocation services, some of the world's largest companies have insisted on maintaining their own servers supported by in-house IT staff. It is looking like that may change in the coming months. Coronavirus has made it clear that there is more than one way to do things. As companies look to reduce their physical footprints by keeping workers at home, expect them to also rethink in-house data storage. We expect more companies to start moving their hardware to off-site locations and turning maintenance over to data centre operators. 2. Greater Emphasis on Private Clouds With decentralised collocation comes the need for more access to cloud environments. However, companies transitioning away from in-house operations will do so with the understanding that their data must remain separate and secure. They will be encouraged to embrace private clouds rather than public. This could be the year that private clouds finally begin pulling their own weight in the data centre ecosystem. Private clouds could be a big moneymaker in 2021 and beyond. That would set the table for new enterprise-level services that could transform cloud computing as we know it. Along those same lines, we are likely to see more companies jump into the cloud pool for the first time in 2021. The world is simply generating too much data to continue storing it on local computers at company headquarters. Those who persist in trying to maintain in-house data are going to discover that it's no longer cost-effective. The cloud will be their best solution. 3. Greener Infrastructure It is clear that data centres will only continue consuming more power as time goes on. With the IDC projecting a 61% annual increase in data generation by 2025, power consumption will only increase. Transitioning to greener infrastructure is inevitable. Expect data centres to embrace energy-saving hardware. Expect to see them embracing greener ways of powering and cooling servers. Expect new data centres to rely more heavily on passive cooling systems and less on mechanical. This could lead to more data centre construction in locations with naturally cooler climates. 4. Greater IoT and 5G Integration It is nearly impossible to talk about the latest trends in data centres and data technology without discussing the introduction of 5G. Years in the making, it has now arrived. Rest assured that 5G and the IoT will be married in big ways in the coming year. Their demands on global data centres will only increase. Every device connected to the IoT generates data that passes through data centre servers. With the speed 5G offers, it is inevitable that even more devices will be connected moving forward. All that interconnectivity will ultimately create the need for even more data centres capable of processing ever-increasing volumes of data. 5. More Comprehensive SLAs Increased third-party collocation, private clouds, and IoT-5G integration could lead to more comprehensive service level agreements (SLAs) designed to protect data centre operators and equipment. At the forefront will be new agreements that empower operators to take over hardware maintenance and upgrades. As things currently stand, companies choosing to manage their own hardware and infrastructure often don't keep up. When equipment fails, their customers are the ultimate losers thanks to data loss and downtime. Data centre operators are in a position to assume responsibility for hardware via new SLAs. Operators benefit by generating new revenue streams. Clients benefit by no longer having to worry about hardware maintenance and upgrades. Customers ultimately benefit from greater data integrity and a lower risk of downtime. 6. Increased Compliance Needs Finally, there is a big push to enact further regulatory reforms to protect customer data shared between jurisdictions. For example, the European Data Protection Board is calling on the private and public sectors to work together to ensure effective surveillance of protected data to guarantee it isn't misused. Brexit finalisation is likely to result in a new data control regime governing how data is shared between Britain and the rest of Europe. New regulations are likely to address similar issues between the EU and US. Data centres will have to adapt their compliance strategies accordingly. The data centre industry continues to evolve with each passing day. Its evolution will not stop as long as humanity continues producing and transmitting data. Thus, emerging trends in 2021 will affect data centres not only this year, but for years to come.