By Bill Barney, CEO of Turbidite
Posted on The Tech Capital
We are in an era rapidly transforming from a bricks and mortar world to experiencing and building new economies and life in a digital universe.
Steve Jobs once said, “We’re going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.” Today, he would likely say, “We are going to move your digital universe to the edge.” Into its third year with no signs of disappearing, the pandemic has not only magnified the growing importance of the digital world, but triggered an expedited need for decentralization of IT applications to bring them closer to the end-user. Alongside of 5G, real-time virtual demands arising from IoT, metaverse, work-from-home and other video technology advancements are putting the need for more sophisticated infrastructure closer to the consumer.
Since the onset of COVID-19 in 2019, the Information & Communications Technologies (ICT) sector has been set off in a whirling frenzy of deciphering the “new normal” and rethinking strategies to deploy and maintain critical IP infrastructure required for the near future. With increasing and more sophisticated virtual demands in media, communications, business, education, logistics and more, our fiber optic and data center ecosystem today plays an even bigger role in enabling efficiency in the world we live in. These stats will stagger you when you think about it in the context of some of the prior years:
Approximately 4.9 billion people – or 63 per cent of the world’s population – are using the Internet in 2021. This represents an increase of 17 per cent since 2019 (source: ITU)
Total international bandwidth has reached 786Tbps, representing a four-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29% (source: Telegeography)
The emerging markets increased their internet penetration by 30% against a prior five year back drop of 11% (source: Hootsuite & ACE research)
At the same time, as more start-up software and internet companies mature into unicorns, the investment communities are banking on the next big win. New emerging markets Over the Top (OTT) players, especially in Asia and the Middle East, are aiming high with aggressive growth plans as they challenge Big Tech and traditional cable companies in a “land grab” to own the next generation of video watchers in the emerging markets. According to Tech Monitor, “In January 2022 alone, Indian start-ups received investments of around $4.6bn across 196 deals, a near fivefold year-on-year increase.” Along with investments come an aggressive push for the deployment of new technologies into the marketplace to optimize business processes and improve customer experience –at its core foundation, we need digitally savvy infrastructure!
Collaboration is the way of the future
More so than ever before, the international collaboration of subsea network providers, satellite operators, hyperscale data center operators and edge data center facilities with software-defined infrastructure providers will be critical to meet the transformational demands of today’s technology ecosystems as virtual business processes and customer experience are improved on a real time basis.
The last decade saw cloud providers solve the capital deployment challenges for enterprises by providing a “buy as you need” model for compute power that has dramatically reduced core IT spending for big corporates. That innovative model of outsourcing is now being applied to the front end of the digital universe where large companies are using cloud-based applications as their customized front end to customers, partners and suppliers.
While fiber-optic networks in the last five years have improved dramatically, on the data center side we’ve got to do a lot more as these new applications require higher levels of performance, near-perfect uptimes and versatile structures to enable even more bespoke solutions driven by unique customer engagement models. Our future will be software-driven, so we must deliver software-defined infrastructure to support the ongoing virtualization of the world we live in.
We need more peripherals on the edge to support devices and applications to ensure businesses can optimize any level of transport and connectivity services. Collaboration of edge and hyperscale data centers is mission critical to ensure we meet the demands of today’s technology companies and major enterprises. In other words, more important than ever, service providers must ensure they meet stringent requirements of network security, low latency broadband connectivity, virtualize storage and quality compute services as they deliver solutions to customers.
Navigating the obstacle course
Amidst the challenges of creating new technologically advanced infrastructure ecosystems, the pandemic driven supply chain crisis is starting to impact network and data center development, creating delays and rising cost issues. In other words, the servers, generators, network equipment, cooling systems and hosting equipment needed to deliver new computing technology are facing supply chain and logistics delays in getting to facilities where they are needed for immediate implementation in delivering edge computing and connectivity solutions.
Today’s data centers also have the added challenge of meeting new sustainability mandates in key markets ensuring carbon neutrality and energy efficiency. At the same time, governments regulators across Asia, Europe and US are stepping up to put antitrust legislation and new laws in place which can put significant restrictions on how Big Tech companies maneuver strategic growth plans across their ecosystems and how smaller competitors can play in the respective marketplace. These potential mandates could further hinder growth opportunities and have significant economic impact.
In a nutshell…
We are in an era rapidly transforming from a bricks and mortar world to experiencing and building new economies and life in a digital universe. With that, comes the delivery of advanced technology to meet the real-time mandates of how we expect to live and operate in an increasingly virtual environment. One that will continue to be challenged by government and regulatory hurdles alongside of corporate sustainability expectations.
Success in the tech space pivots on a new evolving ecosystem. While edge data centers are the fastest way to transform an ecosystem to meet new virtual demands, it is the collaboration of subsea, satellite, hyperscale alongside of the edge facilities that will ensure infrastructure service providers can rapidly deploy new and advanced ecosystems.
These connected, decentralized facilities close to the end-users which can deliver low latency, scalable, secure, real-time performance will be mission critical in supporting the anticipated growth trajectory in technology advancements and digital transformation in the coming year.