Hyperscale Data Centers Continued to Grow in 2017

Scott Ferguson
Scott Ferguson
Scott Ferguson, Managing Editor, Light Reading

Behind every great cloud stands a hyperscale data center.

And as enterprise continues to rely more on cloud, whether it's infrastructure, platform or software delivered as a service, the sheer number of these hyperscale data center will continue to grow to support these businesses.

How many of these facilities are there throughout the world? A recent report by Synergy Research indicates that by the end of 2017, there will be nearly 400 hyperscale data centers scattered throughout the globe, with the majority -- about 44% -- located in the US.

One of Microsoft's hyperscale data centers
(Source: Microsoft)
One of Microsoft's hyperscale data centers
(Source: Microsoft)

Unlike traditional, on-premises data centers, hyperscale facilities are unique for several reasons. Most are exclusively used to support vast cloud infrastructure, but they also share some other features:

  • Hyperscale data centers squeeze a large number of components and gear, in most cases servers, into the smallest footprint possible.
  • The facilities also have very high rates of virtualization, with as many operating system images running on each physical server as possible.
  • Hyperscale offers high-speed, top-of-the-rack networking with speeds of 40 Gbps+.
  • Finally, these data centers tend to incorporate storage directly into the rack itself, as opposed to separate SANs.

Over the next year, the number of these hyperscale data centers will continue to grow, approaching the 500 mark in the next two years, so look for about 50 or so of these facilities to be built in 2018 and 2019 as demand grows.

This growth in hyperscale data centers follow the increasing demand for public cloud services, which Jefferies estimated was worth more than $35 billion in the third quarter of 2017 alone. (See AWS, Azure Lead $35B+ Public Cloud Market.)

As Synergy Chief Analyst John Dinsdale put it in a statement:

Hyperscale growth goes on unabated and we already have visibility of at least 69 more hyperscale data centers that are at various stages of planning or building. We will pass the 500 milestone before the end of 2019. It is remarkable that the US still accounts for almost half of all hyperscale data centers, reflecting the US dominance of cloud and internet technologies. Other countries are now featuring more prominently in terms of data center build, but even three years from now we forecast that the US will still account for some 40% of the worldwide total.

Not surprisingly, the biggest hyperscale builds are also the biggest providers of public cloud. Amazon Web Services Inc. , Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) each have 45 or more of the facilities in locations ranging from North America, to Latin America, to Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region.

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Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) and Alibaba Group are also among the biggest global data center players, according to Synergy.

(Source: Synergy Research)

Other players, including Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Twitter Inc. , Facebook and others, tend to focus mainly within the US.

While the US is home to the largest number of these hyperscale data centers, China accounts for about 8%, while the UK and Japan each represent about 6%, according to Synergy.

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— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

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