The digital economy: data centers deserve some of the spotlight, too

When we talk about the digital economy we tend to focus on the newest and most innovative products and services coming to market. The digital economy is huge and growing rapidly, but everyone knows that. What’s less well known is the innovation and growth in infrastructure to support the digital economy, specifically, large data centers.

Large data centers are standalone facilities filled with servers and IT equipment that support the massive amounts of data and data communication capabilities that we rely on every day (in contrast, small data centers are basically server rooms in an office setting). In order for the digital economy to grow, the storage capabilities in data centers must keep up. Here are three things to know about the industry:

  1. Companies are making significant investments in data centers, and data capacity is growing rapidly. In total, $171 billion is spent on data centers worldwide. Capacity is expected to grow almost five times from 2015 to 2020.
  2. Data centers attract more data centers. Take a look at Ohio. A local news report recently announced Facebook will invest $750 million to build a data center outside Columbus; Google has spent over $1 billion on its data centers in the same region last year; and the tech company Cologix plans to invest $130 million, also in Columbus. That is nearly $2 billion total. The jobs to construct and maintain these data center are local jobs, which means the investment in this area will continue for years to come (read more on that here).  
  3. Data centers are leading innovation in energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. Power is the primary ongoing expense of a data center. Companies, like Apple, are investing in renewable energy, like solar and wind, and inventing environmentally sustainable systems, such as cooling techniques that reduce water usage. These investments advance and inform innovation in sustainability across industries and communities. 

Expect to see continued innovation and investment in data centers throughout the U.S. as states and regions follow Ohio in opening its doors to capitalize on the investments in technology, infrastructure and economic growth.