Data centres are not only sprawling facilities that host vast numbers of computers for storing the world's information and applications - they also demand massive investment. The cost of the data centres opened in SA by Microsoft this year and planned by Amazon Web Services next year will add up to billions of rands.

The data centre of the future may look very different, though. They may not only be a lot smaller - and therefore cheaper - but also designed for highly specialised uses in very specific locations. We're not talking about the fading model of companies running their own data centres, but rather mini data centres dotting the landscape.

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