From the Lab

Data Centers and the Network Edge

Recent talk about “edge data centers” raises a few questions. Such as: The edge of what? And if that’s the edge, what’s the center?

From a traditional enterprise IT perspective, in which in-house data centers are core to the business, the edge concept is a misfit. In those business operations, data centers belong at the center, not the periphery.

But for web-scale companies, the network perspective makes sense. At the center are vast data center campuses, typically located in one or more of the half dozen, major data center markets; the edge, in turn, are relatively scaled-down facilities located closer to customer endpoints.

The logic is that of the content distribution network (CDN), whereby content is cached at the “edge” to reduce transport costs and improve customer experience. Driven by web companies, cloud and other service providers, especially those in the video space, the Internet more and more is conforming to a CDN model.

According to the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index, not only will IP traffic triple from 2014 to 2019, but also by that point IP video will represent 80 percent of all traffic (up from 67 percent). So at the same time that traffic is tripling, video is becoming an even greater part of the total Internet pie.

Technology companies have recognized this trend as problematic. “Will Video Kill the Internet?” That is the title of a white paper from EdgeConneX, one of several data center operators that recognized several years ago how video was “straining the physical design of the Internet.” In turn, it assembled a data center infrastructure designed to reduce the burden on long-haul networks while improving the speed, delivery and quality of hosted content.

As a highly scalable, advanced data center located midway between two major data center markets (NY/NJ and NoVA), Keystone NAP offers a unique value proposition. We not only provide extreme power durability and comprehensive network connectivity and other services; we also can support both the potentially massive compute and storage needs of a company’s core IT operations and the scaled-down edge of a wide area data center network.

For more insight into the notion of the data center edge, see this analysis by Rich Miller, founder and editor of Data Center Frontier.