Greg Stover, Vertiv on the Future of the Edge: We Have No Clue What is Coming Our Way

LOS ANGELES, CA — CapRE’s Seventh Annual Southwest Data Center Summit: The Telecom Evolution featured a deep dive into the Edge. Life on The Edge: The Advent of 5G, Micro Data Centers & Evolution of the Next Generation was a close-up interview with two leading industry insiders, moderated by a fellow insider. Below we highlight the first question posed to the pair of panelists, laying the land for the crowd of 300+ attendees.

“It seems like the Edge is more of a device or user concept than, okay, this is an Edge data center vs okay, this is a core data center. Is that pretty accurate?” asked Moderator Luke Denmon, Senior Vice President of the Technology Solutions Practice at Colliers International. “Because I think that right now we are on the front end of the Edge, and it’s pretty tough to determine, okay, this is the core and this is the Edge, because a lot of that and those functions are happening at the same facility.”

“Well, we definitely see that,” shared Michael Siteman, Director of Chapter Relations at 7×24. “Our whole business model, with the way that we’re growing, in terms of our footprint, and what backs that up is the performance IP network. The company is focused on that in terms of catering to businesses that are trying to reach a large consumer base. In terms of what an Edge data center is, I think it really is driven by who is consuming the content, who is using the content, or who is creating the content. Because all of those go into the formula.”

data center summitAt that point, Greg Stover, Director at Vertiv chimed in. “At the end of the day, I don’t think we have any clue what is coming our way,” he remarked. “I mentioned earlier that 76% of the data that is going across the internet today is content. It’s videos, it’s all of these things. What is going to change the world is self-driving autonomous cars & IoT. There are 200,000 devices being connected to the internet every hour globally. This just came out, I think, a week ago on Saturday by the Department of Energy. Think about that. 200,000 devices an hour being connected to the internet.”

“Well guess what?” he piqued to the room. “If it’s being connected to the internet, that means there needs to be a source of power. If it’s plugged in, there is going to be some compute to normalize it. Does this go to the Cloud, does this go to my data center, does it go to colo, does it go to storage? Those are the kinds of things that are going to shape what it looks like. We have talked about what data centers traditionally look like, we’ve talked about hyperscale, they’re not going anywhere.”

“They’re going to grow,” predicted Stover. “I read something the other day that said something like 80% of all global computers are going to be in 5 companies. What it didn’t say was that the remaining 20% is going to grow anywhere from 10-30x. And it’ll be driven by this whole distributed compute trend. it’s going to be having to have compute and storage and decisions made closer to the source of the data creation.”

Senior Vice President – Technology Solutions Practice, Colliers International

“You mentioned 5G and self driving cars,” interjected Denmon. “We know that is coming down the pipe and we know that we don’t have the infrastructure to support that actually right now. But today what is the actual need for the Edge? Is it getting that 2k or 4k video from Netlix as fast as possible? What else is driving our Edge requirements from this front end technology?”

“I think the video piece has been pretty well addressed,” replied Stover. “Companies like EdgeConneX built 30 data center at 100 megawatts over a 36 month period. I think that every colo in the world has Netflix servers in racks, they’ve got Google servers in racks. Colos have become Edge sites because people are putting content in them. Those are the kinds of things I see now.”

In other words, 5G shows the greatest promise and it’s the new exciting term. “But who is going to build it?” asked Stover. “Who is going to pay for it? A thousand times faster sounds really great but I’ve seen data that says as low as 6,000 new cell sites need to be developed to support that, a numbers that say 2 million new sites need to be developed. Because the pipe is really big and it travels faster, but it doesn’t travel as far. So what do we do about that?”

For more coverage of this panel, check out a previous CapRE Insider Report: Is the Edge at the Data Center Level of the Application Level?