Data centers decline as users turn to rented servers

Data centers are declining worldwide both in numbers and square footage, according to IDC — a remarkable change for an industry that has seen booming growth for many years.

Users are consolidating data centers and increasingly renting server power. These two trends are having a major impact on data center space.

The number of data centers worldwide peaked at 8.55 million in 2015, according to IDC. That figure began declining last year, and is expected to drop to an expected 8.4 million this year. By 2021, the research firm expects there to be 7.2 million data centers globally, more than 15% fewer than in 2015.

The global square footage of data centers, after recent boom times, is also expected to slide. In 2013, data centers totalled 1.6 billion square feet. That was when big service providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google were building huge data center complexes — pushing square footage globally to 1.8 billion this year.

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