BNP Media's Tim Fausch has dedicated his entire blog, Adventures in Construction, to documenting the many economic problems facing the construction industry.
Until recently, the development of new data centers seemed to continue unabated, despite widely documented slowdowns. Of course, unlike many other developments, new data centers are often seen as cost-cutting initiatives. Strategies like consolidating and virtualizing data centers, becoming more energy efficient, and employing blade servers can allow a data center owner to make better use of power, cooling, and real estate, postponing large outlays for years. In addition, these strategies can eliminate costly inefficiencies caused by poorly managed growth or duplicate systems caused by incomplete merger and acquisition activities.
The financial mess on Wall Street seems sure to fuel more of this type of growth, with all the large investment banks having been bought (Merrill Lynch), failed (Lehman Brothers), or converted to commercial banks (Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley). These changes will affect a large number of fairly large high-performance data centers. Still even the largest of the concerns will have to figure out how to finance these cost-savings measures.
At the same time, however, new lines of business can also fuel the development of new data centers. Technology players like Microsoft and Google must continue to build ever larger data centers in order to enter new businesses and retain market. These companies, too, must combat power, cooling, and space limits and find themselves employing very innovative approaches. Need I mention Microsoft's huge new Illinois containerized data center or Google patent for a self-powered, floating data center on a platform.
In fact, the pace of innovation seems to increase as fast as the pace of new construction.
Again, it is hard to predict how tight credit markets will affect these activities.