Edge data centres: Feeding our appetite for data
Tue 22 Aug 2017 | Jonas Caino
In a world so hungry for more and more, Jonas Caino discusses why he believes edge data centres are the future
How did the world get so hungry? We are hungry for computing power, so we get computing power; we are hungry for software, so we get software; we are hungry for data, we create and use loads of data; we are hungry for storage, we get the cloud; we are hungry for bandwidth, we get bandwidth? It appears not. Data centres, computing and the internet are not as decentralised as they should be, relative to where all of the customers are.
As with many technical industries, the data centre sector has its fair share of buzzwords. One that has been bandied around lately is the edge data centre, a phenomenon that is fast becoming a reality. The driver of this has typically been streaming internet content; the YouTubes, Netflixes and Amazons of this world.
In this context, the problem that edge data centres are meant to fix is the cost of peering (inter-ISP connectivity), which can affect bandwidth. Potential edge sites are typically in internet ‘no man’s land’ outside of the typical internet hubs, but with a high enough demand for traffic (even people in remote caravan parks need to get their Game of Thrones fix).
As long as you have a perfect storm of long distance transit providers, content and ISPs (audience) you have a need for an edge data centre that connects all three in perfect harmony. The decentralisation of the internet is well underway. Our consumer’s right never to witness the dreaded buffering circle symbol on our TVs and smart devices is materialising literally before our very eyes.
Business at the edge
Now we have people eyeballing their content whenever they want it. What about businesses and governmental organisations? Does the issue of internet traffic at the edge also apply? The answer is a resounding yes! The driver here is big data analytics. Data is driving strategic and tactical business decisions. Businesses are recognising that the essence of competitive strategy is found in the detail, the data.
In today’s hyper-competitive world, the new resource is data, structured or unstructured
The jewel, however, is in the analysis of the trends; thus, the bigger the data, the more accurate the trend, the easier to make critical competitive decisions. The real driver of edge computing in this context is the ability to gather and analyse big data at or near the source of that data and only use the transit network pipes to transmit relevant results.
Telemetry in Formula One teams, aircraft and flight data with airline firms, data being streamed from cars to manufacturers and insurance companies alike is ever increasing. The sheer size and power of unstructured data is touching almost every type of business and having a single medium-to-large data centre or colocation facility in one location may no longer cut it.
As big data and corporate data streaming grow, so will the need for bandwidth to wherever that data is needed; one or two data centres just won’t be enough. The topology will have to change and CIOs and data centre managers will have to start thinking about a cross network of smaller edge data centre facilities feeding into the bigger data centre, be it owner-managed or colocated.
Businesses have to continue to grow and in today’s hyper-competitive world, the new resource is data, structured or unstructured. It is becoming more and more obvious that data will be useless as a form of competitive advantage if it’s not accessible where and when it is needed, on time, every time and if possible, in real time. So, let bandwidth be your watchword and edge thinking be your friend.