As consumers, when we stream a video to our home
TV or laptop, we usually don’t care where the digital copy of the video is
stored. As long as the video plays smoothly
and with good resolution, we are satisfied. However, content providers put a
lot of thought and effort into how to improve the quality of customer
experience with video streaming. One of the ideas is to move their data centers
closer to the user or “edge” in order to reduce latency.
analyst and Network World contributor, defines an edge data center as
a facility that caches at least 75 percent of local Internet usage with at
least 50 percent of all broadband users in a metro.
Besides improving quality of customer experience on streaming, content
providers can possibly save
data transport costs by moving their data centers closer to the
Another market driver for edge data centers is the mobile
data explosion. According to the Cisco
VNI Study 2015, global mobile data will grow from 4%
of total IP traffic in 2014 to 14% in 2019. The explosion of mobile devices and
applications is moving data to the edge. The third driver for edge data centers
is the Internet of Things (IoT) edge device proliferation. Data collected from
IoT devices needs to be processed in a timely fashion to preserve its value. This
need requires processing equipment to be close to the edge.
I’ve found that edge
data centers typically use in the scale of hundreds of kilowatts with relatively
small sizes and medium to low power density (10 kWs or less per rack). In
addition, edge data centers need to be scalable and flexible. These
characteristics make pre-fabricated, modular
data centers an attractive approach to build edge data
center facilities. Pulling together industry
research, I was able to estimate that the modular edge data center market will
grow to $1 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 28% (see
attached graph from CommScope). The edge modular data center market analysis
was done based on the Global
Prefabricated Modular Datacenter Forecast 2014-2018 by Daniel Bizo,
Analyst, Datacenter Technologies at 451 Research.
I see data centers moving to the edge and becoming modular
as emerging trends. Jim Young from CommScope will discuss more on this subject
in his presentation titled “Micro Cloud - The modular DC path to IoT” at the 4th Annual
Cloud & DC Strategy Summit, March 1-3 at the
Royal Pines Gold Coast, Australia and at the AFCOM
Data Center World, March 14-16 in Las Vegas, Nevada.