As consumers, when we stream a video to our home TV or laptop, we usually don’t care where the digital copy of the video is stored.  As long as the video plays smoothly and with good resolution, we are satisfied. However, content providers put a lot of thought and effort into how to improve the quality of customer experience with video streaming. One of the ideas is to move their data centers closer to the user or “edge” in order to reduce latency.

Zeus Kerravala, analyst and Network World contributor, defines an edge data center as a facility that caches at least 75 percent of local Internet usage with at least 50 percent of all broadband users in a metro. Besides improving quality of customer experience on streaming, content providers can possibly save data transport costs by moving their data centers closer to the edge.

Another market driver for edge data centers is the mobile data explosion. According to the Cisco VNI Study 2015, global mobile data will grow from 4% of total IP traffic in 2014 to 14% in 2019. The explosion of mobile devices and applications is moving data to the edge. The third driver for edge data centers is the Internet of Things (IoT) edge device proliferation. Data collected from IoT devices needs to be processed in a timely fashion to preserve its value. This need requires processing equipment to be close to the edge.


I’ve found that edge data centers typically use in the scale of hundreds of kilowatts with relatively small sizes and medium to low power density (10 kWs or less per rack). In addition, edge data centers need to be scalable and flexible. These characteristics make pre-fabricated, modular data centers an attractive approach to build edge data center facilities.  Pulling together industry research, I was able to estimate that the modular edge data center market will grow to $1 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 28% (see attached graph from CommScope). The edge modular data center market analysis was done based on the Global Prefabricated Modular Datacenter Forecast 2014-2018 by Daniel Bizo, Analyst, Datacenter Technologies at 451 Research.

I see data centers moving to the edge and becoming modular as emerging trends. Jim Young from CommScope will discuss more on this subject in his presentation titled “Micro Cloud – The modular DC path to IoT” at the 4th Annual Cloud & DC Strategy Summit, March 1-3 at the Royal Pines Gold Coast, Australia and at the AFCOM Data Center World, March 14-16 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Author: Frank Yang

Source: CommScope Blog