Data centers are an essential part of business today, but things are changing. The longer the COVID-19 pandemic lasts, the more uncertainty the mission critical industry faces. If it lasts for too long or becomes a more severe threat, the coronavirus may change the way data centers operate entirely.
The Importance of Data Centers During COVID-19
Data centers remain crucial to businesses' survival during the pandemic. As more companies transition into remote work, their use of cloud services has skyrocketed. This rapid adoption wouldn't be possible without the versatility and provision of data centers.
Cloud usage aside, internet traffic has increased as a whole, putting more pressure on data centers. Without a reliable network, much of life in quarantine wouldn't be possible. If data centers weren't as robust as they are, this heightened traffic could have meant disaster.
Data centers have also enabled the fast, reliable communication needed for authorities and businesses. Global health care services have adopted online solutions to communicate crucial info regarding COVID-19. It's safe to say that without these data centers, the effects of the pandemic could have been far worse.
Challenges Facing Data Centers
As critical as data centers are right now, they may also be at risk. Ironically, many of these challenges stem from their increased demand amid the outbreak. The mission critical industry is one of the few that's grown recently, but this comes with some complications.
Given the growing demand, many data centers may need to expand or even construct new buildings. Health concerns for workers and supply chain disruptions may hinder this process, though. As COVID-19 takes a toll on the construction industry, it can limit expansion.
On the other side, some companies may have prematurely built new centers and experience difficulty acquiring clients. Social distancing regulations mean data centers may not be able to offer facility tours, an essential part of the business. Without in-person visits, getting new customers could prove a challenging task.
Changing Storage Needs
The massive shift toward remote work has changed companies' storage needs. Businesses are realizing the advantages of the cloud, especially in emergencies, and forsaking in-house depositories. Cloud providers will benefit, but local institutions will suffer from this shift.
The industry as a whole needs to adapt to this change, adjusting to support the cloud more than anything. After the pandemic subsides, on-premises data centers may be a thing of the past. Employees at local storage facilities could find themselves without a job as this trend continues.
Threats to Employees
Not all threats resulting from the pandemic are financial though. In response to the virus, many companies are taking measures like changing employee hours to stay safe. Upending routines can cause disorientation, which could lead to error.
Additionally, many data center employees can't work remotely, since they need to be present in case of a system malfunction. Traveling to and from the office puts them at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
All businesses need to consider the possibility of further lockdowns and disruptions. If the pandemic grows worse and lockdowns increase, data centers may have difficulty acquiring fuel. In an emergency, medical centers will get fuel deliveries first, potentially leaving data facilities without power.
Without fuel, data centers could lose power, which would be disastrous. A power outage could mean clients lose vital information or put cloud processes at risk of cyberattacks. As the pandemic continues, these issues of energy resiliency and disaster preparedness become more relevant.
How Data Centers Are Coping
In response to these challenges, data centers are adjusting their operations. Like many other businesses, they've implemented measures like medical PPE for employees to keep essential workers safe. Similarly, many are working with skeleton crews to reduce the spread of the virus.
Amid all these changes, many data centers are experiencing a period of economic growth from rising demand. While not all have improved financially, those that have are now better equipped to handle necessary adjustments. The extra cash flow will enable them to provide additional support and prepare for a heightened emergency.
The Pandemic Is Changing the IT Industry
When the COVID-19 outbreak subsides, it will leave behind a different IT industry. The pandemic won't be the end of the data center, but it will change it. As economies begin to recover, facilities won't likely lose the business they've gained.
On-premises data centers will most likely dwindle as those that host cloud solutions thrive. Many will be more cautious about their operations, having more thorough emergency preparedness plans for future disasters. Right now, data centers are at risk, but with forethought and work, they could emerge from the pandemic a more resilient industry.