The world of data center equipment has been turned on its head over the past two years due to issues surrounding the global supply chain.
It no longer is a case of calling up a vendor to order data center equipment and expecting it to arrive a short time later.
Here are some of the top trends in the data center equipment market:
1. Electrical equipment lead times
Electrical switch gear and generators that traditionally have had lead times of up to half a year may now take 18 months to arrive, according to one contractor that builds major data centers.
This is due to a global supply chain slow down. As well as lack of materials, such as steel, cement, bolts, and electrical circuitry, there are also shortages in drivers, ships, and components.
All of this adds up to slower construction of new data centers and delays in construction or upgrades to power systems due to the waiting time for gear. Those wanting to expand existing data centers or build new ones must take into account the sluggishness of the supply chain.
2. IT infrastructure lead times
Servers used to take days to arrive. These days, they can take several months.
Several companies have reported such lead times for servers, laptops, motherboards, processors, networking hardware, and other components. This is pushing up equipment costs and overall infrastructure project costs while causing major delays.
A survey by GetApp found more than three quarters of respondents have been dealing with significant delays in the supply chain for IT hardware. This included all types of top suppliers.
A big part of the problem is shipping. Most noted that shipping was at the bottom of component and equipment delays with more than half waiting anywhere from four months to 13 months.
3. Changes in equipment supply strategies
In response to worldwide supply chain disruption, organizations are initiating a variety of strategies.
“Supply constraints going back two years triggered many organizations to look for new approaches to IT infrastructure,” said Mario Blandini, VP, iXsystems.
Hyperscale cloud providers, such as Google Cloud, and Facebook as well as major data center construction firms are buying up equipment and supplies for projects they may not need for another year or more.
Other approaches include placing orders for more than is needed to expand inventory, paying more for equipment or faster delivery, cooperative arrangements between multiple companies to place larger orders with better discounts and earn a higher priority for delivery, and finding more local suppliers instead of relying on overseas resources.
On storage equipment, Blandini noted that some are turning to open-source storage as a solution to delays in receiving gear from traditional suppliers.
“We expect more organizations to freely evaluate open-source storage software and have seen those who have deployed open storage expanding their use after proving how well it works in their environments,” Blandini said.
4. Refurbishment surge
Another shift is a greater emphasis on refurbishment.
According to GetApp surveys, 58% are now refurbishing or upgrading older hardware to make it last longer and compensate for supply chain delays. Cost, too, factors into the equation.
Refurbishment is often done in response to the need to refresh data center equipment. If it is going to take six months to a year for servers, networking gear, and power equipment to arrive, some are delaying full-scale equipment refreshes for yet another year or two.
But to make this work, they have to ensure their aging equipment is really up to the task. That may mean a thorough maintenance check, replacing noisy fans and other faltering components, adding more memory, and upgrading CPUs, if available, to enable the equipment to cope with the pace of modern day applications.
5. Data center as-a-service
Some have seen the writing on the wall in what can sometimes be a futile attempt to look for equipment and supplies.
This is sometimes causing them to look to outsource data center functions and leave the equipment hassles to bigger suppliers with deeper pockets.
According to Gartner, 40% of newly procured premises-based compute and storage will be consumed as a service by 2025, up from less than 10% in 2021.
“Virtual infrastructure offered as a service enables users to deploy their apps quickly and relies heavily on cloud operations not just storage or on-prem,” said Patrick Aleksanyan, enterprise sales executive, North America, CloudBlue.
“Infrastructure for IT services is no longer just in the data center but through cloud as well.”