Dallas Summit Preview with Chris Martin: Densification Driving Data Center Deployments
by Josh Anderson
DALLAS, TX — Mr. Chris Martin is an entrepreneur and visionary within the telecom industry. He is a original founding member and part owner of GlenMartin and North America VP and COO for the GME Alliance. Chris’ efforts span the wireless tower industry for the last 25 years. He has built thousands of sites throughout the globe including Africa, Asia, Middle East, North America, Central America and South America. Chris estimates well over 10,000 wireless sites throughout the world. He is founding owner and board member of BlueBird Network a 6,000 mile fiber network in Missouri and Illinois. He has been a supporter and a leader within TIA for over 15 years. Chris is a licensed professional engineer in 20 states. Chris is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a bachelors in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Chris will be a featured speaker at CapRE’s Dallas Data Center Summit October 2nd, on the 11:00-11:40 am panel “Life on The Edge: The Advent of 5G, Micro Data Centers & Evolution of the Next Generation.” In anticipation of the event, we caught up with Chris to learn more about his latest activity and observations.
CapRE: Thanks for chatting with us today, Chris. We’re looking forward to seeing you at our Dallas Data Center Summit. Tell our readers a bit about what you do.
Martin: I support in a wide variety of areas associated with communication infrastructure. That includes tower infrastructure, fiber transport infrastructure and data centers. We provide the critical infrastructure needed to support a robust communication network. When it comes to data centers we don’t get involved in Cloud or physical IT based services, we typically just provide a rack, space, power, redundancy and fiber transport. Data transport is the critical element that really makes our data center business come alive. We are seeing our most growth in the enterprise space. My role as a board member is exciting. I also support as a strategic leader in developing new and innovative opportunities in this space.
CapRE: What are the most exciting development opportunities in the space at this moment?
Martin: Right now, there is definitely a network densification going on. Fiber is becoming more and more dense in deployments. The world of 10 GigE-pipes is here. It’s exciting because these pipes are sizable with demanding SLA requirements. I’m beginning to see Edge Computing start to bear itself as an opportunity. I think Edge really is a way to stall growth of 100 GigE-pipes as a standard. We have a fair number of 100 GigE pipes running but as a day to day product we don’t see many calls for it. Definitely I think Edge will put a bit of a delay on the growth of 100 GigE pipes as a standard.
CapRE: And why is that a good thing?
Martin: I think that’s good in a lot of ways, because that helps customers control cost. 10 GigE grow will help stabilize the product offering and improve service reliability. It’s always nice to have a standard pipe size. If we grow pipe size too fast, it really does degrade prices quickly. More isn’t necessarily more for us. We do charge a little bit more, but our price, from 1-GigE to 10-GigE, didn’t change a lot.
CapRE: What are some of the challenges you’ve been working to address recently?
Martin: There is a whole gambit of continual challenges in this world. Really, just keeping a steady pipeline of new opportunity coming. Everybody is changing at different pace. Maintaining a steady pipeline of opportunity is always a challenge. At the same time, our customers are always looking for a better price and a better deal. The metro market has become very competitive – more than ever before.
CapRE: What topics do you look forward to hearing more about at our Greater Dallas Data Center Summit?
Martin: I am definitely interested in this topic of 5G. It certainly helps our pipeline. Micro data centers are certainly something that we are exploring doing more of. I’d like to see us have more activity on the micro data center front. I see these micro data centers potentially staving off the development of 100 GigE growth. I’d like to hear more about the potential growth of the Edge and micro computing services. I think 5G and micro data centers go hand in hand.
I was reading the other day about AT&T and Verizon’s definition of 5G. AT&T is looking more at mobile 5G while Verizon’s shading more toward fixed wireless for 5G. These are very big differences. I think that there is an in-between on that topic of mobile vs fixed. I think that micro data centers play a pretty big role in solving the challenge of latency and the cost of transport. Those are topics I want to hear about – definitely I’m always interested in learning more about what are others are doing and what seems to be the answer for converging these technologies?
CapRE: Tell us more about the drivers for 5G and micro data centers?
Martin: Well, one area that I’ve been focusing a fair amount of attention toward is roadways. Mobile 5G will certainly see a lot of need and applications there. Especially as we move toward autonomous roadways. Roadways likely will be one of the biggest applications for 5G and edge computing. Today CDN’s really are the extent of our micro data services. For the most part apps have been centered around media and content delivery rather than time sensitive computation. Today I see computation really lagging and not quite there yet at the Edge. But I do see the world of computation at the Edge in the future, they have some catching up to do. 5G will help drive that and create greater demand.
Obviously the two biggest reasons – one for latency, and the bigger other element is the cost factor, to get that information back to the cloud. I don’t see the Cloud going away. I don’t see data centers in general every going away. I just see Edge data centers becoming more and more important, what I would call, edge will become a core enabler for greater and larger storage upstream.
CapRE: Tell us about the challenges related to enabling 5G.
Martin: Some of the challenges related to enabling 5G are related to site acquisition, site premise and site presence. I focus a lot of my time in this area. It’s all good and well but if you don’t have a presence of market, a presence of location, it’s difficult to get to that last mile. Whether it be roadway, residential or commercial real estate, it’s really changing right now. Some folks are becoming a real powerhouse. For example we have traditional real estate groups like CBRE getting into this space. This a large commercial real estate group that now has a large presence in the telecom infrastructure space. I see them growing even more as the market matures.
In other words, we’re definitely in a different world of real estate. Folks are waking up to the fact that the business is changing and there are new players on the block. There will be more disruption in this space as traditional infrastructure begins to change and adapt to new technology.
CapRE: Thank you Chris. We’ll see you in Dallas.