Edge datacenters will require denser fiber networks

Yesterday I was at the Datacloud Congress in Monaco, where I had the opportunity to chair a session about the latest trends regarding dark fiber in Europe. The event is a must-go in the field of datacenters and cloud computing, and dozens of expert share their insights in numerous panels. Many different subjects were addressed, among which the ever greener hosting facilities, the development of IT in Africa, and the growing interest of private equity for telecom and colocation assets.

What surprised me more, however, was how big the subject of edge datacenters had become. A few years ago, some companies already argued that there was a need for mid-sized, regional, hosting facilities. But these players were mostly building their activities on the ‘emotional’ need from local players to have their business data stored nearby. Today, edge computing is becoming a trending concept in mobile networks, focusing on how to bring cloud computing and enhanced services closer to the user, possibly even a macro base station, in order to reduce latency and backhaul needs for some applications (who said virtual reality?).

The idea of bringing computing power closer to the user is also making its way for the Internet of Things. Some IoT applications may indeed require a low latency –think connected vehicles or smart grids– and some experts anticipate that ensuring a below 50 ms latency will be needed, requiring closer IT facilities to process the massive amounts of data. The case of the latency to Amazon’s services is well-known ‘every 100ms of latency cost Amazon 1% in sales’, could some IoT applications face likewise issues?

These edge colocation facilities, even though smaller, will require significant connectivity. Firstly, to collect all the data generated by the sensor networks involved in the IoT applications. And secondly because they will be connected to other facilities, partly to take advantage of the latest technologies in the field of networked datacenter architecture. This further highlights the importance of adequate fixed networks (and offers) to seize the new potential sources of revenue that will arise in the next years, be they IoT solutions or edge computing. If you missed it, check the article I published a few months ago ‘Are fixed networks obsolete in the Smart City era ?’.

Expect to hear more from us on this particular matter, as we are currently finalizing a report on how fixed operators can enter the IoT market.