What Mary Meeker Predicts About the Future of Data Centers



If you’re a data nerd or work in technology, there are always lots of goodies in the annual Internet Trends report from venture capitalist Mary Meeker. This year’s version was no exception, as Meeker outlined the major trends shaping global business.

The key takeaway: Many of these trends highlighted by Meeker will boost demand for data centers. Although Internet user growth is moderating, the volume of data is exploding. As users shift to visual storytelling and businesses focus on making everything smarter, data growth is accelerating.

“If it feels like we’re all drinking from a data firehose, it’s because we are,” said Meeker.

Meeker’s report is a classic example of this trend. In a 30-minute talk at this week’s Code conference, Meeker zoomed through 333 slides (yes, that’s 11 slides per minute). As a result, the real value is found in downloading the entire deck and absorbing the slides at a more rational pace.

Data, And More of It, As a Business Differentiator

The report reinforces our key theme here at Data Center Frontier: As the world embraces digitization, new technologies will transform business and society. They will generate tremendous value, and mind-boggling amounts of data, all of which must be stored, moved and analyzed. This data will require more data centers in more places, prompting the data center industry to grow in scale and sophistication.

This trend can be seen throughout Meeker’s report. She prominently features a quote from Looker CEO Frank Bien that “data is the new application. … Data is now fundamental to how people work and the most successful companies have intelligently integrated it into everyone’s daily workflow.”

There are a handful of slides from Meeker that reinforce this theme. Some data points:

  • Data volume and utilization are evolving rapidly, and broadly. Meeker projects “extraordinary growth” in overall data volume, citing IDC research that the total “datasphere” will grow from 33 zettabytes today to 175 zettabytes in 2025.
  • Significantly, the percentage of data that is structured – organized for use in a spreadsheet or database – will rise from 13 percent now to 32 percent in 2025.
  • These improvements in data collection and formatting are driven by business goals, as cloud technologies and artificial intelligence allow companies to leverage data in new ways to improve their business.
  • Data analysis is becoming a competitive differentiator, Meeker says. The ability to mine data for customer insights (including personalization and recommendations) is essential for most businesses, and will become more so in the future.

These trends are all driving data storage off the hard drives of consumers and on-premise data centers, and into third-party data centers and the cloud. That trend is likely to continue, Meeker predicts, citing the embrace of the cloud paradigm by C-suite executives (illustrated in this slide featuring stats from Morgan Stanley).

When you bring it all together, Meeker highlights a model of how the explosion of data will make its way through the economy, and through the network. A key slide from Meeker features this diagram, which originates in an IDC report (“The Digitization of the World, From Edge to Core”) and places the data center at the center of the universe.

This fully aligns with our view at Data Center Frontier, as expressed in our launch thesis from 2015:

“The shift to cloud computing will accelerate the construction of massive data centers and high-speed networks. As our society shifts to a digital economy, there will be an explosion of data. This data must live somewhere, and flow across the global Internet to users’ doorsteps. In the real world, there is no “cloud.” It all lives in data centers. Software is eating the world, but it doesn’t have a seat at the table without data center infrastructure.”

You can read and download Meeker’s full report at the Bond web site, or view the full rapid-fire presentation from the Code conference, which is embedded below:.

Source:: Data Center Frontier