Unprecedented demand for online content such as movies, videos, apps, social media, and photos have become a staple part of the digital diet. And according to JLL’s latest data center report, the adoption of cloud services to store all this content is expected to double the size of the North American data center industry by 2021.

“With information streaming in from every corner of the world, organizations struggle to understand where and how to best manage and process their data to deliver instant, reliable access to information for consumers and businesses alike,” said Bo Bond, Central Region lead for JLL’s Data Center Solutions Group.

“Cloud services, digital content, and new data sovereignty laws are setting the data center market on fire,” he continued. “Demand is historically strong, so the onus is on the data center operators to build space fast enough, while also accommodating shorter, more flexible lease structures that have become highly popular as data strategies have evolved.”

With a spike in protective data sovereignty laws enacted this year, JLL’s annual North America Data Center report also observes that countries are beginning to regulate where the cloud ‘lives.’ Data sovereignty means that digital data is subject to the laws or legal jurisdiction of the country in which it is stored. With this some of the industry’s biggest players are expanding globally faster than ever to meet growing demand and regulatory compliance requirements.

The JLL report covers 17 North American markets for data center facilities, and reveals the top trends influencing U.S. data center locations, including:

1. Cloud adoption will double the size of the data center industry over the next five years. Cloud adoption is racing ahead at break neck speed and even this year, JLL has seen record absorption of data center space totalling 274.2 MW. This is spurring a development surge across the country, especially in markets like Northern Virginia where 1.13 million square feet is under construction and a further 2.67 million square feet is planned.

2. Data center users are disbursing data across locations, aligning with smarter data management strategies. Data center providers and users alike are getting smarter about location planning and load management, while pursuing shorter, more flexible lease structures.

3. Data sovereignty laws are redrawing the global data center location map. From Brazil to Russia, the industry's biggest players are expanding internationally faster than ever to meet growing demand and help users stay compliant with regulations designed to keep data inside a nation’s borders.

4. Climate change is shaping data center legislation and technology. The realities of global climate change have spurred effective energy efficiency solutions, from refrigerant-based cooling systems to the continuing rise of data center micro grids.

“Cloud services will continue to be the primary demand driver in North America,” said Bond, “The industry’s biggest players are ready for it. They are upping their game with smarter capacity planning and virtualization strategies to meet the growing demand for this very specialized space.”