The Belgian and Dutch data center industry is hardly prepared for the rapid advance of AI

In Belgium and the Netherlands, data centers still have to take many steps to keep up with developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI). “The data center industry in the Netherlands is hardly prepared for the rapid advance of artificial intelligence (AI) within the IT world.” Robbert Hoeffnagel, editor-in-chief of various IT trade magazines, makes no bones about it in this article by ITchannelPRO. “If data centers and their suppliers do not keep up with the times, they will be overtaken by Asian companies.”

Hoeffnagel: “A lot of inefficiency has been removed from the infrastructure and relatively little electricity is wasted. But I do notice that the industry is not ready for the high demands that AI places on IT hardware and data center infrastructure.” Hoeffnagel gives an example: “A traditional IT rack consumes between six or seven kilowatts of power. That is not enough for AI. Then you will soon see racks that use 30 kW or more. AI uses so much data and so much processing power that power consumption increases by a factor of fifteen to twenty. Much heavier IT hardware is needed to process these large amounts of data and cool the devices.”

More efficient and cheaper

Due to the explosive demand for AI, American tech giants are renting workspace en masse in European data centers to process data more efficiently and cheaply. Dutch data centers must be better prepared for this, says Hoeffnagel: “Such tech giants will soon need at least eighty kilowatts of power for one rack. This is a major challenge for Dutch data center suppliers because they are not used to this. They are still focused on the traditional data center infrastructure. But look what an organization like Open Compute Project is doing in the field of cooling? It’s actually only about liquid cooling.”

The rise of e-mobility and autonomous driving is driving the demand for AI technology up even faster. Hoeffnagel: “Companies such as Tesla, Mercedes, BMW and other e-mobility parties collect unprecedented amounts of data to analyze our driving behavior, discover patterns via AI and soon make autonomous driving possible. Because our autonomously driving car must of course stop in time if grandma crosses the road with a walker in an unexpected place.

This development places great demands on the processing and storage capacity of data centers. Hoeffnagel: “The Netherlands still thinks too small and too traditional. In Asia, very different types of data centers are currently being built with an architecture that is fully optimized for the requirements of artificial intelligence. We can learn a lot from that. There is a plan behind this in China. It is not without reason that they invest 40 billion dollars in a few years in developing their own processors and GPUs. Do we have such a plan?”

Look beyond the borders

The journalist has a very positive view of the future of data centers. “Look beyond the borders and seize the opportunities that AI offers you. AI gives a huge boost to data centers. But AI can also be used very well to make data centers much more efficient. An incredible amount is happening in that area, but to be honest, I hardly come across those types of technological solutions in the Netherlands.”

“AI will not take over your job, but someone who is able to apply AI intelligently will. Many people think about it too easily and do not yet see enough of what is going on, but with such an attitude you will not make it in the data center world.”

Friso Haringsma says the following: “The concerns of the Dutch data center industry are identical to those within Belgium. This question does not start or stop at national borders, but is a general trend within the sector. I have been in the business for 20 years and we are still occasionally surprised by the ever-increasing demand for heavy power. It certainly underlines the fact that AI is a very important driver of the growth and relevance of digital infrastructure for the near future!”

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