Scant skills spells foggy future for APAC data centres

Image courtesy of ABB

An increasing number of data centre operators in the Asia-Pacific region will be migrating to the cloud or relying more heavily on managed services by 2025, as a shortage of skilled workers impacts the sector’s ability to build new on-premises capacity to meet post-pandemic demand.

Research carried out by ABB in partnership with Data Center Dynamics (DCD), reveals that the current 50/50 split between data centre equipment housed on-premises versus co-location or cloud-based solutions is set for a shake up over the next four years.

More than two-thirds (69%) of senior industry experts indicate that this will shift to just 25% on-premise and 75% in colocation or cloud in the near future.

The reason for this shift in thinking may lie in the industry’s struggle to build new capacity. More than 40% of respondents said that data centre construction in APAC hadn’t been able to keep up with demand over the past 12 months. This, as the perfect storm of an unpredicted surge in demand and a reliance on traditional construction practices held progress back.

Three quarters of respondents (76%) agreed that business transformation in APAC needed hyperscale to progress, but the research revealed that these plans for growth are being hampered by a number of issues which have been created, or made worse, by the pandemic.

These include supply chain resilience (82%), health and safety precautions (77%) and access to specialist sub-contractors and trades (74%) as the biggest areas of concern for the sector. 

The availability of specialist skills also tops the list of factors which will have the greatest effect on data centre construction costs over the next three years, with 45% of respondents mentioning it as a key issue.

Kent Chow, ABB’s data centre segment leader for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa Region, said results show that the APAC data centre industry is trying to expand and respond to growing data demand but being held back by a shortage of suitably skilled people. 

“Attracting talent to the industry, providing training and upskilling all takes time so one way operators can help themselves in the short to medium term is to utilise smart solutions for the installation and maintenance of power equipment,” said Chow. “This can take the pressure off existing staff and speed up installation and commissioning times to get new data centres open faster.”