As the DSL broadband world gets overtaken by fibre and we aim to embrace 5G wireless connectivity, this will create new physics and design challenges for data centre operators.
Harm Joosse, director of business development and cloud platforms at Interxion, said that data centre operators are pondering the future size, shape and scale of data centres, including novel approaches such as mini data centre networks on lampposts as edge networking and 5G defy data physics as we understand them today.
‘As these companies digitally transform, this is leading to fierce conversations around 100Gbps connectivity into the data halls – 100Gbps is the new normal – and demand is very high’
– HARM JOOSSE
We all know data centres as big lumbering halls of servers, but it is a very real concern when you consider the power and cooling challenges these present, and how 5G and edge computing will require dense clusters of base stations in urban areas.
For Joosse, while the future may appear far off, it has a habit of happening faster than you can predict. “We track the connectivity requirements of customers and the amount of data going through our colocation data centres, as well as companies and their rate of growth.
“As these companies digitally transform, this is leading to fierce conversations around 100Gbps connectivity into the data halls – 100Gbps is the new normal – and demand is very high.”
Joosse said that the challenge for data centre and colocation providers such as Interxion is to accommodate this demand by growing existing data centres, but also figure out the future.
“We certainly see an explosion in data,” Joosse said, pointing to the most recent Cisco Visual Networking Index, which predicts 35pc growth rates in data every year for the next five years thanks to large volumes of data required by social networks and video streaming platforms.
“In terms of the volumes of data, some of the biggest applications from the business segment are in terms of ERP and CRM systems.
“We are constantly advising organisations how to manage these volumes of data, and at speeds where 100Gbps is the new normal. The key to this is design architecture – catering for data transfer rates and traffic at volumes between on-premise and the public cloud. So, that connectivity layer is something that enterprises are studying more in-depth. The question is, how do you solve the capacity volumes of the future at the rate that traffic and volumes are increasing?”
Designing the novel future of networking
If anything, Joosse said he and his colleagues are energised by the engineering challenge.
“Another challenge is power consumption because, as the volumes of data go up, the demand for power does, too. It is not only power densities but the way that you design data centres. Yes, you are looking for ways to reduce costs but also the cooling of data centres.”
He said that while novel ideas such as building data centres in the Arctic Circle or under the sea off the Scottish coast have caught some people’s imaginations, the reality is, the data is still going to have to be proximate to the audience.
“We want to be where the eyeballs are and to do that in a cost-effective manner, and that requires metropolitan networks that are hyperconnected but fundamentally local.”
With 5G entering the fray, this will require dense networks of 5G base stations in urban areas to keep up with the speeds of data being consumed. The challenge this presents is, how do data centre providers, telcos and ISPs deliver data centre networking to the very edge?
Joosse said that a multitude of new ideas are forming, including the potential networks of mini data centres on lampposts or on the tops of buildings. “The challenge is that you cannot do it on one telephone pole, it would need to be done at scale immediately.”
Returning to the present, Joosse said that data is at the top of the enterprise CIO’s agenda. “Customers are focused on building capabilities to handle and understand these large sources of data; build nodes to analyse and exploit data, design the right architecture to enable these capabilities, and add the security layers to ensure GDPR compliance.
“The key for Interxion is to operate and design our data centres in a way that customers feel comfortable, and offer a secure and compliant environment where they can deploy infrastructure and keep up with the data volumes,” Joosse concluded.
Updated, 3.33pm, 18 October 2018: This article was updated to clarify a quote from Harm Joosse referring to 100Gbps, not 100Mbps.
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