The Age of the Edge: Why Large-Scale Operators Should Regionalize

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.

data center summit“I saw one model that basically said something along the lines of, going forward, nothing is universal,” began Moderator J. Mark MacDonald, Founder and CEO of Canada15Edge Data Centers Inc. “A retail data center can co-exist with a wholesale data center. But as data gets pushed to the Edge, you’ll see something as small as a container alongside a 5G tower, perhaps connected to a regional data center that might perhaps be connected to the Cloud. Do you see that happening in your marketplace?”

First to reply was Craig McLellan, Founder of ThinkOn, with brief remarks. “I know of one where an organization, it happens to be a local utility, who dropped a container inside a building,” he shared. “And that’s their twenty-cabinet data center where they are offering local compute services attached to their local fiber. So adding 5G connectivity to it is like peanuts. It’s very easy.”

Next, Herb Villa, Senior Applications Engineer at Rittal Corporation chimed in with some remarks that were a little more substantial. “The large-scale data centers are not going to go away. We are still going to need them,” he asserted. “They’re just not as important anymore. Sorry, large-scale data center people. They’re critical if you are the proverbial hyperscale data center provider. The large internet providers — we know who they are. If you’re doing those Cloud-based services — we know who they are. But you must go more regionalized. You must be able to bring that further out.”

“So there is actually a layer from Cloud to the Edge called the ‘Pod.’ That’s that container. So I can drop it in there and it acts as an intermediary between them – the large-scale data centers aren’t going away,” Villa continued. “Edge data centers become more regionalized, more localized. They should be built with some of the same levels of resiliency and redundancy and bandwidth capability and flexibility and scalability that we see in our large data centers. And they will be able to then further enable the Edge deployment.”

Villa then wanted to re-visit a familiar, but vital, vocabulary lesson. “Let’s go back to this – the Edge is anywhere that’s not in a data center. It could be in a transit system. It could be in an aircraft,” he spelled out. “It’s in Cruise ships today. Cruise ships have little floating data centers, because everyone wears little electronic bands to charge everything. At the end of the Cruise, only then do you realize just how much money you spent. It’s really easy to do. So that’s the Edge.”

And according to Villa, that solution will need the data center to support it, whether it’s at a localized level with a container or a modular or a pre-engineered type of solution. “But those facilities will not become as “important” as they think they are today,” he concluded.

For more coverage of this Edge discussion, check out previous CapRE Insider Reports:

Banner Photo (L-R): Herb Villa, Senior Applications Engineer at Rittal Corporation & Craig McLellan, Founder of ThinkOn