Getting the edge on the competition through new tech trends

With heightened competition driving the need for new efficiencies to be found across data centre estates, Richard Clifford, head of innovation at critical environment specialist Keysource, discusses some of the key drivers for change in the data centre market.

With increased competition and tighter margins comes new impetus for operators to identify efficiencies. Implementing more efficient cooling systems and streamlining maintenance procedures are well explored routes to doing this, but they also represent low hanging fruit in terms of cost savings. Competition in the co-location and cloud markets is heating up, and so data centre operators are going to have to be more imaginative if they are to stay ahead of the curve.

Some notable trends are likely to accelerate over the next five years and operators would be wise to consider how they can be incorporated into their estates.

Edge Networks

The resurgence of the edge-of-network market is one. This relies on a decentralised model of data centres that employ several smaller facilities, often in remote locations, to provide an ‘edge’ service. This reduces latency by bringing content physically closer to end users.

The concept has been around for decades, but it fell out of favour with businesses with the advent of large, singular builds, which began to offer greater cost-efficiencies. That trend is now starting to reverse, due in part to the rise of the Internet of Things and a greater reliance on data across more aspects of modern life. Growing consumer demands for quicker access to content is likely to lead to more operators choosing regional, containerised and micro data centres.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also set to have a transformational impact on the industry. Like many sectors, the potential of AI is becoming a ubiquitous part of the conversation in the data centre industry, but there are few real-world applications of it in place. Currently complex algorithms are used to lighten the burden on management processes, for example, some operators are using these systems to identify and regulate patterns in power or temperature consumption that could indicate an error or inefficiency within the facility. Managers can then deploy resources to fix it before it becomes a bigger problem or risks downtime. Likewise, they can also be used to identify security risks, for example recording if the data centre has been accessed remotely or out of hours and reporting any unusual behaviour.

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This article was published in the March edition of DCS Europe Magazine for the Data Centre Alliance. You can continue reading here

We talk Edge with Data Centre News

Published in the September edition of Data Centre News Magazine our MD, Steve Whatling, explains why the growing demand for edge data centres led by Internet of Things, Smart Cities, and Content Distribution presents a number of challenges that data centre operators will need to be prepared for.

The data centre landscape is fundamentally changing. As businesses and the public sector continue to invest in the possibilities of always-on connectivity, the creation of a fully-connected smart city is no longer a pipedream.  From Barcelona – where public transport, parking and street lights are internet-enabled – to Bristol, which has invested in projects to monitor traffic and the environment, real-world pilot projects are gaining momentum.

This will result in a realignment in the market towards edge data centres, or fog compute, in the coming years to support this growing need for greater connectivity and data availability.

This presents a huge opportunity for professional data centre operators but one that is not without its challenges.

Whilst the decentralised data centre model has been around in various guises for some time, it fell out of favour for a lot of businesses as they sought to exploit the efficiencies of operating fewer, larger data centres. The emergence of the IoT will undoubtedly lead to a resurgence in its popularity. Only edge networks can provide the high connectivity and low latency required by the IoT and meet customers growing expectation for instant content and services.

Whilst the data centre has often been seen as an afterthought or as the last piece of the puzzle, as we become more reliant on technology this approach needs to change.  Over the years we’ve seen data centre deployment projects that have often been fragmented, with focus on available land and power. Once the location has been chosen, power and connectivity providers would be contracted to deliver the required services, which could involve disruption as these are put in place.  Moving forward, the location and deployment of edge data centres needs to be part of an integrated planning process which informs the placement of the critical facilities in relation to infrastructure and adjoining usages.

One of the major factors that needs to be considered is around data centre security. Cyber-attacks are increasing in both scale and frequency, while problems originating from physical infrastructure have also been found to be behind significant outages in the recent years. According to the European Commission, cyber-crime is costing €265 billion a year and some experts have predicted that edge computing potentially represents a soft underbelly for cyber security. These concerns will rightly mean that clients will expect data centre operators to be investing heavily in security and disaster recovery processes. As well as cyber security, the physical security and maintenance of these localised data centres will also be paramount.

Read the full article on page 32 of Data Centre News Magazine

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