Building Synergy in the Momentum of the Edge
By Phill Lawson-Shanks, chief architect and vice president of innovation at EdgeConneX®
Historically, major colocation providers have built their facilities in large metro markets, especially in “peering hubs” where most of the webscale players, Over-the-Top (OTT) content, and cloud service providers interconnect and exchange traffic. For many years this approach made sound business sense since international business hubs such as New York, London or Tokyo, or peering hubs like Ashburn, Santa Clara or Amsterdam where were most of the world’s Internet traffic originated, lived and breathed.
But over the course of the past decade, as enterprises, cable companies, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), cloud and content providers, as well as hyperscalers expanded globally, the problem of ensuring the lowest possible latency and Quality of Experience (QoE) of digital content to local-market consumers and users has become challenging. The solution for these entities would be to locate their services as close as possible to areas with high concentrations of end-users, especially in underserved, so-called tier II markets.
It was at this point that EdgeConneX® Edge Data Centers® (EDCs) entered the picture: facilities that literally created a new “edge” of the Internet. These EDCs were not located near the traditional Internet peering hubs, but instead located precisely where these new services needed them to be to ensure effective delivery of content. Our chosen locations were selected based on a collaborative effort with our customers, taking us directly to the eyeballs (end users) that our customers serve. EDCs improved the quality of high-bandwidth web services to users outside of the top metro/peering areas by allowing our customers to cache the most popular content or web-application data on servers closer to tier II cities such as Phoenix, Minneapolis and Seattle. Fast-forward to today, and EdgeConneX has become highly regarded for creating purpose-built, edge-of-network infrastructure solutions that extend the Internet’s reach while enabling the fastest and most secure delivery of content, cloud services and applications.
Edge Data Centers are proximity-based, strategically located nearest to the end-user’s point of access to reduce network latency and optimize performance. Local proximity access also brings the cloud closer to the enterprise, enabling more secure, real-time access to cloud applications and services while offering reduced backbone transport costs. The growing adoption of the cloud simply means that the cloud must move to the edge.
The breakthrough moment came years ago when a leading U.S. cable company successfully leveraged EdgeConneX Edge Data Centers to implement its cloud-based video on-demand service in order to meet the cable company’s performance requirements. Soon after, the leading social media, OTT media streaming, search and cloud sites brought EDCs into the mainstream. The Internet traffic being generated by these companies is enormous. Hence, they continue to move content as far to the edge as possible to reduce latency and avoid expensive long-haul networks. Today, EdgeConneX’s portfolio consists of 40 EDCs in 28 global markets, supporting this growth needed at the edge.
The next big drivers on the horizon are the Internet of Things (IoT) and the mountains of Big Data that the predicted 30 to 50 billion connected devices will create by 2020. To enable the Internet of Everywhere will require ubiquitous connectivity. Partnerships, such as the one that combines Telia Carrier’s leading global Internet backbone with EDCs that are strategically positioned nearest to network provider aggregation points, are essential to creating the ecosystem needed to meet the current and future demands of the marketplace. The net results are higher levels of security and performance to end users, while enabling the lowest possible latency for IoT, cloud and bandwidth-intensive content via single–hop access to local enterprises and consumers.
The advantages of a synergistic relationship between Telia Carrier and EdgeConneX, who share a belief in the momentum of the Edge in creating a better user experience, cannot be overstated, especially as the IoT expands, and the tsunami of connected devices and the cloud become impossible to separate. Presently, only about a third of the data collected by the swelling tide of sensors is analyzed at the source, but as the IoT grows, that is going to change significantly. Some industry experts believe the best solution will be to combine the Edge, cloud and fog computing. Fog computing means extending the cloud closer to the things that produce and act on IoT data. Analyzing IoT data close to where it is collected minimizes latency. Fog computing also reduces the amount of data that is transferred to the cloud for processing and analysis, while also improving security, a major concern in the IoT industry.
Fog computing, instead of housing information at data center sites far from the end-point, aims to place the data close to the end-user. Once again, a partnership that combines Telia Carrier’s global reach and EdgeConneX’s local performance improvements will enable enterprises and end-users the ability to take advantage of this new technology.