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Survey Shows Mild Interest in Edge Data Centers, Mostly for Future Deployment

Data center

Edward GatelyWith nearly half of IT professionals looking to add an edge data center within 12 months, channel partners and MSPs should seek out data-center partners that can provide services in a wide variety of locations.

That’s according to a new Green House Data survey of 492 IT professionals, with 38 percent at the executive level. The results indicate mild interest in edge data centers, but mostly for future deployments.

Green House Data's Steven DreherSome 18 percent of IT professionals currently use an edge data center, while 54 percent do not plan to add one.

Steven Dreher, Green House Data’s director of solutions architecture, tells Channel Partners data-center partners must be at least Tier III equivalent, have a strong roster of network carriers and maybe even host major content providers. Also, edge doesn’t necessarily mean out in the middle of nowhere, but rather underserved markets, he said.

“Edge is becoming a popular concept as high-speed Internet access spreads, and more and more businesses are cropping up in smaller markets around the country,” he said. “‘If you build it, they will come’ might apply in this case. If a data-center partner enters a market with pent-up demand and interconnects many providers, businesses, local governments and other area organizations, your opportunity as a channel partner explodes. A potential customer is going to be very interested in your available cross-connects and ability to deliver to their users in far-flung reaches.”{ad}

The survey also asked IT workers about the perceived advantages of edge data centers. The biggest advantage reported was lower bandwidth costs from shorter backbone transport, with 52 percent listing it as a benefit. Half saw access to more content providers and carriers as a main advantage, while 47 percent liked the possibility of lower latency for local markets. Another half also saw the benefit of cheaper colocation space away from expensive primary markets.

The most important features of an edge data center were at least Tier 3 equivalent design and uptime (55 percent) and carrier neutrality (55 percent), although these are almost basic requirements for a modern enterprise data center, Green House Data notes.

Another 45 percent said access to a wide variety of CDNs and content providers was a requirement for an edge data center. Forty-five percent also reported that serving a significant portion of bandwidth to the local population was important in edge facilities.

“Perhaps most surprising was that …

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… IT professionals don’t believe an edge facility needs to be located far away from major metros,” Dreher said. “We believe this is because the strongest edge demand lies in underserved rather than nonexistent markets. Smaller cities that are growing quickly and need the infrastructure, that’s where edge can really grow. It remains a moving target, however. Once a city reaches a certain stature and enough providers are installed, is it the edge anymore?”

The least surprising finding was that lower bandwidth costs are the main advantage of edge facilities, according to the survey respondents. This has long been a main driver of edge adoption.

Some 36 percent said that edge data centers should stock the majority of Internet traffic from popular sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook. It seems that local stock and distant geography are less important in defining edge data centers, while resilient design and a variety of options for connectivity are vital, Green House Data said.

Pushing large data loads across many miles of fiber adds up quickly, so edge locations allow that data to be placed closer to end users.

“Who are you partnering with for data-center services?” Dreher said. “Could you spin up a private cloud of your own in a new data center on the edge of the Internet? Consider starting small, trying to sell off your virtual machines or backup environment, and then deciding which markets are best for you. You need to strategically locate your data-center resources so you can pass on bandwidth savings and partner advantages to your customers.”


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