Toronto Edge Round-Table: The Pendulum Has Swung Back to De-Centralization
by Josh Anderson
TORONTO, ONTARIO — The Edge has already rocked the data center world. But its biggest impact may be yet to come. At CapRE’s Canadian Data Center in Toronto on May 22, a panel titled Life on The Edge: The Advent of 5G, Micro Data Centers & Evolution of the Next Generation included some exclusive analysis by two regional data center leaders on where and how exactly the next generation of Edge computing will roll out.
“It sounds like it’s back to the future yet again, with centralization and de-centralization and so on and so forth,” remarked Moderator Greg Vernon, Senior Vice President, CBRE, to his two panelists. “One analysis of all of this would say that the compute and storage is now becoming decentralized, away from a centralized unit. Does that increase safety, survivability and resiliency in your eyes, or is it just compounding the issues?”
Bob Matthews, Application Engineering, CommScope Solutions Canada was first to offer remarks to this query. “Well I think that if we start to look at the way that the data center has evolved, if you will, to your point, de-centralized vs centralized, I remember many decades ago when we had mainframes,” replied Matthews. “And you didn’t get anymore centralized than that. We had dumb terminals that were connected through some sort of cabling solution, and we used a mainframe.”
“Then that small company with three letters came along, developed a personal computer, and we de-centralized,” he recalled. “We moved applications out to the desktop. And everybody thought that was a great idea. And what have we done now? We’ve gone back to centralized. We call it Cloud. It’s got a new name. I think it’s the same players that build the equipment, but we’ve rolled it back again.”
In the end, continued Matthews, it’s always going to be a combination. “There are always going to be applications that sit in the Cloud. I look at our organization and many like us will use something like salesforce.com. There’s a Cloud application,” ventured Matthews. “But our data, we keep internal. And we keep it within our own boundaries, and we manage our own data. So there is always going to be that combination between the two. But again we’ve started to go back into a centralized role, as it stands today.”
Craig McLellan, Founder, ThinkOn then chimed in with some further thoughts. “I agree with everything you said. I think the technology has caught up with the use-cases now, to the point where you can manage data through a lifecycle. Maybe not everyone is prepared to invest in money in the tools. But the tools do exist. So, where a copy resides in the Edge and there are three copies in the Cloud, people can now determine what is the single source of truth? And that’s a very important thing to consider. Because you can’t have four sources of truth.”
McLellan then shared how there is another pressure point, and that is, it’s not about sovereignty, as much as it is about privacy. “And there is going to be a lot more consumerism and consumer demand around where data is, and what it’s actually being used for,” he predicted. “I don’t know if it’s this generation or our kids or our grandkids, but I eventually see the stewardship of data being one of the biggest drivers, which I think will keep data local for a very long time.”
For more coverage of this Edge discussion, check out previous CapRE Insider Reports:
- Life After the Edge: “Will 180,000 Square Foot Data Centers Become Dinosaurs?”
- How Will the Cloud Change When 50% of Data is at the Edge?
- J. Mark MacDonald Talks the Road to 5G at Canadian Data Center Summit: “No Point in Having a High-Speed On-Ramp to a Dirt Road”
- Edge Roundtable: “An Edge Deployment is Really Just a Node on the Cloud”
- 5G Can Carry Data, But Hits Cinch Point at Landlines. What Kind of Fiber Solutions Will Support the Edge?
Banner Photo (L-R): Craig McLellan, Founder, ThinkOn & Bob Matthews, Application Engineer, CommScope Solutions Canada