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Survey: Data Center Pros Weigh in on Edge Data Centers

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Edge data centers have a lot of buzz these days as a way to deliver services outside of core markets. But do actual data center operators have any interest in edge facilities? And what exactly is an edge data center, anyway?

Green House Data surveyed 492 IT professionals, with 38% being Executive level. The results indicate a mild interest in edge data centers, but mostly for future deployments. 18% currently use an edge data center, with 46% planning to add an edge facility within the next 12 months. 54%, meanwhile, do not plan to add an edge data center.

Edge data center current deployment pie graph
Edge Data Center future plans pie graph


What do IT professionals like about edge data centers?

We also polled IT workers about the perceived advantages of edge data centers. The biggest advantage reported was lower bandwidth costs from shorter backbone transport, with 52% listing it as a benefit. 50% saw access to more content providers and carriers as a main advantage, while 47% liked the possibility of lower latency for local markets. Another 50% also saw the benefit of cheaper colocation space away from expensive primary markets.

Edge data center advantages

What does the industry believe is necessary for a facility to be an “edge data center”?

Edge data centers are commonly defined as having latency benefits, local peering, many content providers located inside, and located away from major metros. Some definitions also include the requirement of caching the majority of internet traffic from popular sites, as well as serving a significant portion of bandwidth to the local population.

But is that how edge data centers are perceived in the industry?

edge data center essential factors graph

Of the 492 respondents, the most important features of an edge data center were at least Tier 3 equivalent design and uptime (55%) and carrier neutrality (55%), although these are really almost basic requirements for a modern enterprise data center.

Another 45% said access to a wide variety of CDNs and content providers was a requirement for an edge data center. 45% also reported that serving a significant portion of bandwidth to the local population was important in edge facilities.

However, only 27% believed they had to be located away from major metro areas, possibly because small- and mid-sized cities often make up edge markets. Only 30% and 32% of IT professionals required a local peering exchange or 100 Gbps fiber, respectively, in an edge data center.

36% said that edge data centers should cache the majority of internet traffic from popular sites, like Netflix, Youtube, or Facebook.

It seems that local caching and distant geography are less important in defining edge data centers, while resilient design and a variety of options for connectivity are vital.


What does this mean for the future of edge data center facilities?

The Edge has become a popular topic in the past couple of years, but the definition continues to evolve. As connectivity improves and spreads across the country, is anywhere truly the “edge of the internet”? What is the difference between an edge market and an edge facility?

Bandwidth abilities and costs floated to the top in both our polling of advantages and requirements for edge data centers—not too surprising, as bandwidth costs, especially for media and content heavy traffic, can be a primary expense when outsourcing data center services. Pushing large data loads across many miles of fiber adds up quick, so edge locations allow that data to be placed closer to end users.


Is your organization one of the 46% looking at edge locations for a future data center, or do you have the infrastructure you need for nationwide delivery? Did we miss anything that you think is a requirement for edge facilities? Sound off @greenhousedata on Twitter and let us know.

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