Increasing demand for video streaming, social sharing, artificial intelligence (AI), and critical activities such as banking and medical procedures is driving computing to the edge of the network and putting significant pressures on providers to expand that network quickly. How much pressure? Consider these predictions from Cisco:
- More IP traffic will be created in 2022 than was created in the first 32 years of the internet era combined.
- There will be more than 28 billion connected devices worldwide by 2022 – including 12 billion mobile devices and IoT connections – and 82 percent of all IP traffic will be video.
I know what you’re thinking: First, it was the internet, then the smartphone, then the cloud. We’ve been racing to meet urgent network computing demands for 30 years. That’s true, but all of these advances are creating a cascading data avalanche and pace of network growth that is orders of magnitude beyond the surge from any single technology innovation. Yes, network growth has been frantic, but we haven’t seen anything yet.
With that in mind, deployment speed is more critical than ever, and the ability to deploy equipment quickly anywhere in the world is becoming another layer of differentiation. This is especially true as computing continues to migrate to the edge in today’s distributed networks, where delivery delays mean lack of service – and revenue. There is an urgency to network deployment today that is driving new ways of thinking about equipment and facilities.
In the past, we’ve addressed pressing needs for capacity by overbuilding and overprovisioning data centers and other network facilities, but that approach is wildly inefficient and requires a significant investment that may never generate a return. That was true ten years ago and is even more valid today as networks become more distributed and reliant on edge computing. Overbuilding a single site is one thing. Overbuilding hundreds or thousands of edge sites is something else altogether. That’s why more and more organizations, and many of our customers, are opting for modular solutions that allow them to scale responsibly.
Prefabricated modular solutions deliver capacity where and when it’s needed. By normalizing and industrializing design, you can establish a reliable supply chain and repeatable manufacturing processes to streamline the progression from order to operate. Traditional approaches involve architects, civil, structural and electrical engineers and contractors, all “coordinating” schedules and deliverables in a way that almost unavoidably results in protracted timelines. Prefab modular designs eliminate many of those complications.
My colleagues, Peter Panfil and Steve Madara, recently discussed this and other data center trends with industry analyst Dana Gardner on his BriefingsDirect podcast. Steve said something about this need for speed that rang true. He said, “the new reality is not that the big will eat the small; it’s that the fast will eat the slow.” That is so true. Every conversation we have with customers today comes around to speed. How fast can you do it? How soon can we have it? We’d better have the right answers.
I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast discussion for more on this topic and other trends impacting the data center. How is your organization meeting the skyrocketing demand for computing?