The last 20 years have been a very exciting period for data centres with the evolution of the internet, cloud computing, and edge computing. Data centres have had to deal with a rapid increase in the volume of data that needs to be managed and processed.

Listed below are the major milestones in the journey of the data centres theme, as identified by GlobalData.

1946 – ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, was switched on to calculate artillery firing tables.

1954 – Launch of the first fully transistorised computer to use all transistors and diodes and no vacuum tubes.

1960 – The IBM System Series of mainframes was born.

1971 – Intel released the 4004, the first general-purpose programmable processor.

1973 – Xerox unveiled the first desktop system to include a graphical user interface and large internal memory storage.

1981 – The PC era began.

1981 – Sun Microsystems developed the network system protocol to enable client computers to access network files.

1982 – Microcomputers began to fill out mainframe rooms.

1999 – The dotcom boom required fast connectivity and non-stop operations, turning data centres into service centres.

2002 – Amazon began the development of infrastructure as a service at Amazon Web Services (AWS).

2006 – AWS started offering web-based computing infrastructure services, now known as cloud computing.

2007 – Apple launched the first iPhone, kicking off the smartphone industry and creating the mobile internet.

2011 – Facebook launched Open Compute Project with specifications and best practices for energy-efficient data centres.

2012 – Surveys suggested 40% of US businesses already used the cloud.

2015 – Google and Microsoft led the massive build-out of data centres for their own use and to sell as Infrastructure-as-a service (IaaS) services.

2016 – Google spent over $10bn in capital expenditure, mostly on data centres.

2016 – Alibaba became the world’s fastest-growing cloud services company, with revenues rising nearly 200% to $685m.

2016 – Data centre operators upgraded optical interconnect kit so data transfer speeds could hit 100G from 40G.

2017 – Microsoft, Facebook, and Telxius completed Atlantic subsea cable providing up to 160 terabits of data a second.

2017 – By the end of 2017, around 30% of data centres worldwide had migrated to 100G.

2017 – Huawei and Tencent joined Alibaba in major data centre buildouts in China.

2018 – Data centre operators started the migration to 400G data speeds.

2018 – Silicon photonics technology started to impact data centre networking architectures positively.

2020 – Edge computing revised the role of the cloud in key sectors of the economy.

2020 – The number of hyperscale data centres increased to 600.

2022 – Many more traditional enterprises will be using software defined everything (SDE) in their data centres.

2022 – The projected number of connected devices on the global network will be 29 billion.

2025 – The data centre industry will see mainstream adoption of 1000G interconnects.

2025 – 75% of data will be created and processed outside a centralised data centre or cloud, up from 10% in 2018.

2030 – Most networks will be software defined, allowing enterprises to switch between telecom operators freely.

2030 – All data centres will be software defined and programmable.

This is an edited extract from the Data Centers – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.