It is that time of year again when we look back on the previous twelve months and anticipate what might be coming in the next twelve. In short, it is time to take a look at our annual predictions for the data centre industry in the coming year. Needless to say, 2022 has changes in store. Will they be as noticeable as the changes brought on in 2021 by the ongoing coronavirus crisis? Time will tell. Most of the predictions in this post are based on analyses from Gartner. As a leading technology research company, Gartner has a solid reputation in our industry. However, not everything company analysts say is to be taken as gospel. Gartner predictions are not always accurate. With that out of the way, here are six things to look for in 2022: 1. Accelerated AI Adoption As artificial intelligence (AI) technology improves, organisations are finding fewer and fewer reasons to avoid adopting it. Everything from network management solutions to software-as-a-service (SaaS) makes use of it to some degree. Look for more accelerated AI adoption in the coming year. AI can help manage data centre hardware and software more efficiently. It can make network-hosted applications more productive. Properly implemented AI can do everything from reducing power consumption to managing data loads. If not 2022, when will widespread AI adoption kick in? 2. More Automated Network Administration One of the fringe benefits of AI technology is its ability to foster automation. Expect to see more automated network administration in the coming year. Greater automation will be encouraged not only by AI technology, but by better hardware as well. Better hardware requires less manual intervention to maintain. When combined with automated tools, administration becomes more streamlined and more efficient. It also opens the door to more self-service options among data centre customers. 3. Increased Cloud Spending Gartner predicts that cloud computing will account for as much as 45% of all IT spending, at the enterprise level, within the next four to five years. In the past, we would normally associate that with a reduced need for data centre services. But we don't think that's the case. Instead, we draw a distinction between the public and private cloud environments. Just because organisations plan to increase their spending on cloud computing does not mean the public cloud will prove the be-all and end-all. In the coming year, we expect data centres to invest more in private cloud services designed to keep company data and applications in a more traditional environment. We expect to see more organisations offering the benefits of cloud computing with the inherent strengths the data centre offers. 4. The Development of Hybrid Models As enterprises and data centres collaborate to further develop the cloud, we expect to see more hybrid models utilising combined resources from public and private cloud providers housed by data centres and stored on data centre servers. Furthermore, data centre operators will lead the charge in developing these new models. The result will be more public-private partnerships that focus on cloud and network modernization. 5. Improved Sustainability Models It is hard to imagine a future of hybrid models without improving sustainability at the same time. Our industry has been steadily working for years on increasing sustainability and green energy initiatives. Yet there is still a long way to go. Developing new sustainability models is not just one option for better business in 2022, it is a mandate. We expect data centres to be more energy-efficient in the coming months. We expect operators to explore new ways to power and cool servers. Right now, everything is on the table from a sustainability perspective. The next twelve months will reveal just how serious our industry is about it. 6. More Fragmented Regulation Finally, any hopes of a unified regulatory regime in 2022 are probably misplaced. If anything, it is likely that regulations will become even more fragmented as jurisdictions seek to assert their independence. Data centre operators will find themselves having to be very particular to adhere to the regulations and all the jurisdictions in which they have a presence. Simply put, we are all going to have to pay close attention to regulatory compliance in 2022. From data security to the potential for further COVID-19 restrictions, 2022 could be a bumpy regulatory year. As the next 12 months unfold, the data centre industry will have to adapt and adjust. How much adaptation is required depends on how quickly the industry wishes to move forward. We are in it for the long haul. We hope you are too.