According to forbes.com, more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race. And by 2020, one third of all data will pass through the cloud.

Data centers are mushrooming, cloud services are flourishing.

On the 11th of July, I attended the Cloud and Datacenter Convention at the Sand Expo Convention Centre in Singapore, where around 1000 professionals and 30 exhibitors gathered to share and discuss future thinking and lessons learned in cloud and data innovation. Here’s my summary of some key ideas I took away pre-, during and post-convention.

Sustainability was a key topic where aspects of cost, talent and technology were discussed.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that data centers consume up to 3% of all global electricity production. Of the total operational cost of running a data center, 40% of the energy is for powering and cooling the massive amounts of equipment in the center. To keep the cost of running a datacenter down, a cooling system is required and is one of the most important factors. Liquid cooling systems and other innovative ways of wiring to promote better airflow were methods being discussed. Cooling systems are especially important for countries near the equator like ours.

The cost of building the data centers is another big concern. More and more businesses are depending on data centers and cloud services and no one can afford downtime. Modern data centers are built to withstand winds of 200 km/h and 9.0 magnitude of earthquakes.

The rapid growth of data centers leads to higher demand for talents not only to build and maintain the data centers, but also to manage them. It is a segment that has not been previously emphasised. Almost half of the talent in the field now will be retiring in 8 years, and most of the jobs available 5 years down the road may not exist yet. Schools are not currently offering courses that would supply the industry with sufficient and suitable talents with only a few courses in the United States and Europe available. As a speaker pointed out, these tend to be either too US-centric or EU-centric.

There is a real talent crunch. Students might not see the needs of the future so reaching out to students before they embark on their study might lure in more future talent.

This leads to handing over some managing tasks to artificial intelligence (AI) with China taking the lead in conducting research in this field.

Data is just some 1s and 0s if users do not make meaningful data analysis. Data is widely available now and using it with responsibility would be a virtue that we need to instill in the younger generation.

Regulation and data-sovereignty were topics I found very interesting. Data-sovereignty does not promise data security is what most speakers agreed to during one of the panels. Also, regulations in one industry shall enable another industry rather than hindering its development. For example, data collected in the transportation industry shall enable the development of road infrastructure.

As for the future of cloud services and data centers, more and more applications are cloud native. Edge-computing and hyperscale data centers are gaining attention too. Data processing for internet of things (IoT) needs more frequent connection between the devices and the cloud for better performance. Processing of data will be able to achieve greater results using devices with better frequency of updating data between the database and the devices.

My conclusion to the vast amount of information I received in 6 hours?

Talent crunch is real and similar in the Blockchain world. Education and training are important. As a trainer, I am glad that I am actively participating in the development of this segment for both online and offline training. In my opinion, it is a good move for NEM to develop its online training portal to help train others in using our blockchain technology.

Peer-to-peer networks like Blockchain need cloud services. How would data centers affect Blockchain? How could AI, IoT and Blockchain be effectively integrated through services by data centers? When technologies converge, they are more powerful.