Digital Infrastructure is the foundation and lifeblood of all modern societies and economies – in both the developed and the emerging world. Its components are sustainable energy, telecommunications networks (fiber and mobile/wireless), the Internet (IoT), and edge-to-cloud data centers.
We live in a world in which five billion of us – 75 percent of the population – live in sub-standard conditions. Much of that is a lack or failure of civic utility (and likely more…) infrastructure. As an example, most nations in the emerging world deliver only one to five percent of the electricity we take for granted in the developed world.

Furthermore, an almost unfathomable per-person income disparity exists between the least-developed societies compared to the most developed nations – a staggering 25,000 percent.

A Clear and Present Challenge

Without question, a clear and enormous – yet achievable – challenge arises to bring all of the world up to a reasonable and sustainable economic standard. An early finding of the research we are conducting for DigitalInfra Network suggests that to do so will require a doubling of global energy production and the grid. And the demand will be for this energy to be clean, reliable, resilient, secure and cost-effective.

A massive increase in internet server computing, telecommunications networks, the internet itself and data centers of all types is inherent in this as well as the world’s economy adapts to digital transformation. There’s a wide disparity among nations (and regions within larger countries) in the number of installed data servers. The number of servers per million people – as measured by the World Bank – rangers from just a hand-full in several of the most under-developed countries, to several hundred throughout much of the emerging world to 10s of thousands in modern, advanced nations.

Leading the world in the total number of servers – now exceeding 20 million – the US stands only behind only the small nations of Denmark, The Netherlands, Ireland and Singapore on the number of compute servers per million of population.

With the development of modern, smart electricity grids, as well as increased fiber and mobile/wireless connectivity, a robust expansion in the number of compute servers and data centers should follow. And this is the requisite to achieving significant economic growth throughout the nations of the world.

We at Tau Research see a need to invest at least US$250B annually – or about 0.3% of the world’s GDP – on sustainable power grids alone in order to lift the emerging nations to a higher standard while spurring the developed world to transition to fully sustainable societies. Similarly, very large investments will be required for the other aspects of what fully modern digital infrastructure means.
Some of the big questions at hand are:

  • How can all of this be achieved in a sustainable, responsible way that reduces our carbon footprint while deploying such massive new electricity resources and the Digital Infrastructure to accompany it?
  • How will the geographical distribution, and scale of data centers evolve?
  • How will the IoT edge of computing, networking and cloud distribution affect the previous question?
  • Will emerging nations be able to “leapfrog” what we consider to be the developed world in terms of digital infrastructure connectivity and compute – and its sustainability?
We Call on the Experts – Including You

We will address these questions and challenges, through our unique research, thought-leadership stories, case studies, exclusive interviews, and, of course the conference series beginning with Montreal on November 12.

We are engaging well-known experts – and all of our readers and conference attendees – to work with us with us to promote scenarios and projections for sustainable power, data center innovation, 5G mobility and fiber-optic networks in the data center and throughout the world.