Smart city wireless communication network with graphic showing concept of internet of things ( IOT ) and information communication technology ( ICT ) against modern city buildings in the background
Smart city wireless communication network with graphic showing concept of internet of things ( IOT ) and information communication technology ( ICT ) against modern city buildings in the background

“The Edge” is a buzzword that’s stirring up excitement about what the future holds for improved cloud computing. Many have jumped to the conclusion that The Edge is poised for a huge takeover, leaving traditional data center configurations in the dust. But has the hype gotten ahead of itself?

DataBank’s CEO, Raul K. Martynek, challenges these assumptions, sharing the reality of why this isn’t actually the case in a guest post for Data Economy. In this blog, we explain what The Edge is and Martynek’s breakdown on why The Edge we should prioritize is already here, found inside overlooked “traditional” data centers.

Edge computing infographic showing modern offline data transfer technology concept located close to user or internet of things

What is Edge Computing?

In contrast to traditional cloud computing, where data is processed at a centrally located data center, edge computing processes data at “the edge,” which is the place closest to where the data is needed.

The excitement behind edge computing lies in its promise of reduced latency, which would be achieved by this reduction in the distance data must travel to be processed. Rather than having to travel to a centralized data center, data is processed locally.

Traditional cloud computing takes place at data centers in an East, Central, and West configuration. Edge computing distributes processing across thousands, or even tens of thousands, of micro edge data centers, each located closest to where data is received.

Red and white cell phone  telecommunications tower against blue sky

The Big Assumption About Edge and Why It’s Flawed

In his Data Economy post, Martynek examines a major argument for edge computing and why it’s an assumption that doesn’t hold up when you study the facts. The argument is this: new applications will require near real-time latency, necessitating the deployment of micro edge data centers at thousands of locations.

But is it true? Are we soon going to need micro edge data centers deployed in the thousands to keep up with the demand for near real-time latency? Will the traditional East, Central, West configuration no longer offer the real-time latency necessary for applications?

To answer these questions, Martynek compares the latency offered by deploying infrastructure locally with a solely East/Central/West configuration. What he demonstrates is that, even when you take into account the impact of 5G, “deploying in tens-hundreds-thousands of micro-data centers would only improve latency by 1ms or less, and in some cases introduce latency depending on where the peering occurs.”

Martynek reveals that the incremental benefits of micro edge data centers to latency would be negligible. Not to mention that they would introduce “significant operational and technical hurdles to deploying infrastructure over large geographies.”

“When you consider the complexity, cost and operational support needs of deploying infrastructure in the field coupled with the benefits of scale that comes with aggregating infrastructure in a single location,” Martynek concludes that “the single data center deployment to serve a metropolitan market is superior.”

“Spend enough time in the telecom and technology industries and it becomes clear that the hype of many new technologies usually precedes the reality by 5-10 years.” – Raul K. Martynek, CEO, DataBank

Internet data center room with server and networking device on rack cabinet as cloud computing concept

The Overlooked Edge You Can Harness Now

The excitement surrounding The Edge has led many to overlook a space where a type of “medium edge” is already happening today: inside data centers in secondary markets. These traditional data centers, as Martynek demonstrated, offer superior latency in the here and now and are far from being surpassed by micro edge data center deployment anytime soon.

In fact, as Martynek explains, “before the large cloud and content players deploy at 10,000 cell tower locations, “they will first deploy a single cluster in a traditional data center in the top metro markets that they are looking to service and be able to reach any eyeball in those geographies with very low latency.”

Martynek acknowledges that new applications may arrive in the future that make a distributed data center geography worthwhile, but it’s wise to focus on the reality of what edge computing offers now—not the ethereal dream of where it might be ten years down the line. Rather than being whisked away to Neverland on The Edge bandwagon, the smartest move to make right now is prioritizing the use of second-tier markets.

Want to harness the power of the medium edge? LightBound serves both global and national organizations, and we’re fortunate to have some of the world’s best and most successful companies as clients. Contact us today to learn more about our Internet, voice, co-location, network, and cloud services.

CONTACT US