Is the Edge Over-Hyped? Google’s Daniel Golding Says Data Center Industry Should Focus on Real Problems — Not Shiny Ones

LEESBURG, VA — Fireside Chats are always a highlight of CAPRE’s International Data Center Series Summits, and CAPRE’s Seventh Annual Mid-Atlantic Data Center Summit in Leesburg, VA last week was no exception. Driving the Data Center: Networks, Clouds, and the Data Centers featured the perspective of two highly respected data center leaders, Buddy Rizer, Executive Director of Economic Development for Loudoun County, VA & Daniel Golding, Network and Data Center Infrastructure Leader at Google. Soon after the session kicked off, Rizer and Golding dove deep into an evergreen topic — the advent (or not) of the Edge.

“We hear a lot about the Edge and we talk a lot about what it means,” began Rizer. “Obviously, when we first started doing these conferences, I was on the “Secondary Market” panel and I found it funny because I knew we were going to become the market. So what do you see as far as the future of the Edge and how does that impact some of the bigger players?”

“I honestly don’t think it’s going to have a huge amount of impact,” replied Golding, curtly. “I think there’s been a lot of hype, a lot of tech press, around the Edge, the Edge, the Edge. I think it’s a particularly well-funded effort. I see folks with great business trying to figure out what their Edge strategy is, even if they don’t fully understand. But for a lot of us, Ashburn is the Edge. For a lot of us, Chicago is the Edge. Our data centers are large, and they’re in other places. The Edge is where we interconnect with folks, and there are few better markets than this one for interconnecting with folks.”

According to Golding’s observations, there may be technological drivers for getting much, much, much closer to houses, but they’re not yet fully in evidence, with the exception of content delivery. “And if you look at networks, content delivery is not perhaps a solved problem, but a well-understood problem,” he posited. “If you’re Akamai, you’re probably not getting a lot of complains about your latency. Our YouTube users are really quite happy with the performance they get – both mobile and for the web.”

“One of the things that we need to be sure that we do, as an industry, is solve the problems that need solving, rather than solve the problems that seem shiny,” asserted Golding, who then pointed out that there are some edge problems that need to be solved, but he’s not sure they’re necessarily as important in proportion to some of the more pressing connectivity issues out there. “I think if you look at content delivery networks and content providers, we’ve got 7500 Edge nodes. We continue to expand that to meet the needs of our customers, but we’re not necessarily seeing that we need another thousand Edge nodes.”

Golding then shared some final words, before transitioning to a different topic — the aesthetics of data centers in Loudoun County. “You know, technology changes rapidly, but it’s important to not put the cart before the horse. Areas of concentration, like Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Singapore, these will always be very, very important to us,” he intimated. “And I don’t see the center of grafting shifting away from those markets. I see it shifting towards them.”

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