Gulf region's data-center cooling market sees strong growth

Cloud-based services are the future of the electronic economy the world over, but particularly in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), where the economy has enjoyed more than 30 percent growth over the past decade.

Cloud computing allows business concerns to focus capital on their services and products, rather than technological backbones. However, locating server farms and data centers in GCC member countries presents the tech industry with dilemmas and challenges found nowhere else in the world. As a result, the data center cooling market in the GCC is experiencing strong growth. Leading industry analysis firm TechNavio recently released a new study predicting a 23.37 percent compound annual growth rate in this area over the next five years.

Faizan Akhtar, lead analyst at TechNavio Research, explains the extremely variable climates in the region are a formidable obstacle to overcome when building sensitive data centers and server farms. These facilities can fail if variations in temperature, extreme humidity, particulates and airborne particles are not dealt with appropriately.

“In the data center environment, humidity controllers are to be adjusted based on local requirements and also are to be configured to react to sudden changes in the environment,” he said. He says three competing cooling technologies have emerged in the GCC market to deal with these environmental challenges of heat, dust and noise, including containment cooling, liquid-immersion cooling and adiabatic cooling.

He cautions against selecting one dominant market player at this time, however.

“It will take two to three years to see which technology is going to win the battle,” he said. Certain cooling technologies will not work in certain areas of the region. For example, recent advancements have used containment-based cooling to prevent the separation of cold and hot air. This reduces hot spots and the data center's carbon footprint. Both in-rack and in-row based containment solutions are used to achieve air flow.

Adiabatic cooling systems have proved to be a turning point for the industry, he said. These systems allow operators to closely monitor the heat generated in the system, and to precisely employ evaporative coolers to control the air flow. Other technologies, such as liquid-immersion systems, are slow to catch on. Liquids, such as water, are circulated through a data center and used to dissipate heat. However, as of this writing, no data centers have fully implemented these systems in the region. The reason could truly force an innovation unique to GCC centers.

“We believe that, with scarcity of water for industrial users in GCC, availability of oil, and increasing development of oil-based coolant solutions to be used in immersion cooling is expected to drive this technique in the GCC market,” Akhtar said.

The demand for cloud computing and centralized data centers will grow throughout the GCC, and Akhtar offered his vision for future demand:

“Currently, most of the mission critical sectors such as BFSI, telecom, and government agencies have been using data centers. In the upcoming years, it will be expand to health care, and industrial applications as well. Moreover, the smart cities concept is emerging in the GCC countries. Hence, more number of data centers are going to be deployed exclusively from the smart cities. Moreover, the existing data centers operators are expanding their current infrastructure to accommodate more SMEs who have shown an increase in spending in adoption of cloud for their business purposes.”

For more information on the company and a more detailed analysis of the market, visit http://www.technavio.com/

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