It’s not where your data is at, it’s where you are connected

The edge data centre industry is set for a boom time as business leaders look to modernise their IT infrastructure in order to gather, analyse, use and store more and more data at ever greater speeds

With 5G promising to provide far more connected devices with much faster speeds and a multitude of new services, this new tech wave is set to accelerate the rapid growth of the edge data centre to almost triple in size to $13.5 billion in 2024 from $4 billion in 2017, according to PwC.

There is a prominent school of thought that this growth will come from regionalised data centres and their ability to overcome intermittent connections and store and compute data close to the end user to reduce latency. This is the idea being pushed by many of the smaller operators who claim to be able to offer a faster and more efficient service to their the local community than a larger data centre, based further away.

In actuality, the key to unlocking the edge solution that customers are seeking is not going to come from regional data centres alone. There needs to be more focus on the end user because they will likely need to connect to the data via London or another hub anyway. The time has come for a more practical definition of edge data that is more closely aligned with where the data is situated. This is more about the route taken to get to the data than where its ‘home’ is.

What is important for the customer?

Although the digital edge is commonly viewed by its physical geographical perspective, from a business user point of view, the edge could be anything including a temporary event or site. The edge can even be found in a data centre that is a meeting point for hundreds of carriers. From the data centre customer’s perspective what really matters is having access to all the different network providers that they want to connect with.

The data boom is going to be driven by innovation in a number of markets including farm analytics in agriculture, the use of military drones in the defense industry and the increased use of robotics in the healthcare sector. Traditional networks still need to make preparations for the sheer volume of data that can throughput on the 5G network.

For data centre customers it will be more important to have access points and a route through highly connected data centres to avoid having to install the physical infrastructure between points of presence (PoP). Having a PoP in a data centre where you serve lots of traffic will avoid the necessity of
installing expensive equipment and increased numbers of fibres between locations.

The next point of consideration is the journey the data takes to get to the end user. If that end user is based in the north of England, they may be using a local broadband provider, which may have a data rack in a well-connected London campus. This would provide high speed access to the wider information they may need because that content is published from the London data centre. If this provider doesn’t have a rack, it then needs to find a way to get to the highly connected London campus in order to get that information.

A new definition of digital edge

Redefining the digital edge means that the physical location of the data is not the be-all and end-all. Of much greater importance should be a focus on the route to get to that data, understanding that where a data centre is positioned on the map is less important that the amount of local connections available inside it. This thinking is similar to choosing speed dating as a quicker way to find a partner by connecting with more people to increase your chances of finding the right match.

The operators of more traditional companies are still attempting to define the edge only in geographical terms. However, the new way of thinking about digital edge should be much more aligned with where the data sits. At the end of the day, for customers the number of connections available in the data centre are more important than its location.

About the Author

Richard Pow is Senior Sales Manager at Telehouse. Telehouse provides a comprehensive range of data centre services and ICT solutions to more than 3000 customers from M2M, financial and gaming industries to name a few. By offering data centre facilities, networks services and managing system integration processes for global corporations and start-ups alike. With more than 30 years industry leading expertise Telehouse guarantees the highest levels of security and connectivity for customers in all its premium colocation sites