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Experts Discuss the Importance of The Edge in Today’s Digitally-Connected World

When the terms “edge computing” and then “edge data centers” hit the industry, there was a huge buzz. The concept made logical sense and hypothetical use cases were thrown around, but only the risk takers seemed to be pushing their compute to the edge. Then the unexpected happened: the most massive shift in data consumption we may see in our lifetime conspired in 2020, and with it the industry saw many of these use cases accelerated in a matter of weeks rather than years. 

No longer theoretical, there is no doubt that the “edge” is here. But is it here to stay, or will the buzz die down to be replaced by the next big computing concept? 

JSA asks our network of tech, telecom and data center industry experts, “Is the edge still “edgy” anymore?”

Sean Barton | Chief Operating Officer, EdgePresence

“It depends on who you ask. From EdgePresence’s perspective, what we are doing is pushing network access and data center services further out, closer to the end user and end device. On one end of the spectrum, this is just seen as traditional data center services now available in areas where it was not available before. On the other end, the edge data centers are serving the newest technologies and applications that require ultra-low latency. So yes, from my viewpoint, enabling a company to host their servers locally with us and/or enabling America’s first cloud-native 5G network, the edge is definitely still edgy.”

Jon Falker | Marketing Director, Prime Data Centers
Jon Falker

“Edge computing is not edgy. It’s just a natural, logical, evolution of tech infrastructure to reflect changing needs. Many systems need to balance centralization with decentralization. Edge computing is a rebalance of compute from almost entirely centralized to a more even mix.”

Bill Severn | Executive Vice President, 1623 Farnam

“The edge has become a key component in most business models these days. As customers demand lower and lower latency, edge computing has become a common practice among businesses. With the rise in popularity of activities like online gaming, AR/VR and more achieving the lowest possible latency is critical, making edge computing an integral part of performance. Edge capable data centers continue to provide immense amounts of value for a wide range of customers. While edge computing may not seem as an exciting, emerging technology anymore, it is certainly here to stay.”

Krystyna Witt | Director, Solutions Architect, EdgeConneX

“The power of the Edge is within the connections it enables. Our networks have never been more critical to our total well-being. The industrial economy has been replaced by the information economy. From healthcare to education to enterprises harnessing IoT and AI, all of this relies on high capacity and resilient network infrastructure. How closely the infrastructure is to the end-user can have a game-changing impact on application performance, development and overall user experience. This has the Edge speeding ever closer to the end user and yes the Edge is still very much a lead strategy for organisations.”

David Fox | Director of Business Development, American Tower Edge Data Centers

“The topic of what and where the edge is has been heavily debated. For American Tower, the edge is where our towers are located. We’ve created a network of edge data centers at the base of our cellular towers across the country. While edge collocation is still in its infancy, we believe tower companies are well poised to support and scale the market quickly with existing real estate, where connectivity naturally occurs. By storing data in this way, closer to where it’s generated and consumed, network efficiency is increased, which is critical for IoT and 5G-based applications. The question of whether the edge is still ‘edgy’ may be relevant to the enterprise benefitting from the facilities. Our Edge Data Centers provide the benefits of on-premise data storage without the operational logistics and maintenance. For us, that means the edge is still edgy.”

Anton Kapela | Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer, EdgeMicro

“The ‘edge’ will always be ‘edgy’ – because physics is real. Whether it’s land mobile radio (ie. LTE, 5G-NR, etc.), gaming, or simple real-time communication, physical systems limits are everywhere. Here, our chief limit is simply the speed of light within an optical guide, or fiber. Many popular mobility wireless systems such as LTE and 5G have in-built, inherent delay-limited capabilities. If these are exceeded, it often spells certain doom for a systems performance and operational efficiency. To that end, wherever possible, we seek to ensure the right amount of hardware is deployed in the right places to directly address these physical limits. In other words, the edge will always be edgy whenever and wherever engineers are making the best, most efficient use of their resources.”

Bruce Lehrman | Founder/CEO, Involta

“The edge might not be “edgy” anymore — but only because it’s now a fully integrated and necessary part of any IT discussion. It’s no longer an experimental idea that only the most cutting-edge organizations look into, it’s a fundamental part of meeting new demands for speed, latency, geographic reach and customer satisfaction.

Organizations across manufacturing, healthcare, and beyond are looking to leverage the most innovative opportunities across IoT, 5G, AI, and more. Those tools and applications thrive at the edge. That makes the edge the place to be to drive the most value and ensure a competitive advantage. This growing edge momentum is why Involta continues to focus on helping our customers ‘Get There’ on their journey through strategic expansions and acquisitions that empower our ‘edge to innovation’ philosophy.”

While the concept of “edgy” is debated, the experts agree that the time and the place for the edge is now. With 5G deployments becoming more widespread and the rise of Smart Cities and IoT, we are looking at true tests to latency as the amount of data we are creating is reaching critical mass. 

Could edge data centers in major cities be the answer to effectively processing these mass amounts of data while keeping latency low? Join us for our next JSA Virtual Roundtable on July 15 as an additional panel of experts explores this topic further! 

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