Digitisation and hybrid working have redefined the colocation landscape, bringing with it a new class of facility and provider, says David Keegan, Group CEO at DataQube global.
Data centre and colocation providers have always needed to think about contingency plans, but a global health crisis that resulted in millions of workers being sent home for months on end took contingency planning to a whole new level. Commercial companies, educational establishments, healthcare organisations, finance etc. all had to digitally transform in just a few weeks simply to maintain ‘business as usual’. Unimaginable amounts of data were generated as a result, putting heightened pressure on comms infrastructures. Whereas regular power outages and structural challenges are, by and large, avoidable with the right planning, COVID-19 was a black swan event that caught everyone off guard and its repercussions are still being felt today. Many industries have undergone irreversible transformations and colocation landscape have been permanently altered as a result.
As the world went virtual, efficient data handling became integral to every aspect of our lives. From sending and receiving emails or updating our stories to TV streaming, video conferencing, ecommerce, smart ticketing, and engaging with VAs, all these interactions generate data in huge volumes that needs to be seamlessly dealt with. Data centres have undergone explosive growth to keep pace with demand, and this, in turn, has redefined the colocation market, with a different type of facility needed.
75% of enterprise-generated data will be handled outside centralised facilities by 2025
The drive for data centre to re-evaluate their data handling capabilities and relocate their digital infrastructures pre-dates the pandemic thanks to technological advances and faster comms networks. Indeed, according to Gartner, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be handled outside centralised facilities by 2025 and the global edge data centre market is expected to triple to $13.5 billion by 2024. Data centre and colocation business models, therefore, need a total rethink in terms of their connectivity capabilities and physical locations, and this is giving rise to smaller data centres in high footfall locations.
But data centres and colocation facilities don’t just ‘appear’. They need careful planning in line with future capacity requirement, real estate needs to be sourced, planning permission/building regulations need to be sorted out, and upfront capex, which is anything in excess of £7 million, needs to be secured. The average data centre project takes anything between 18 months to two years to complete and, in a world driven by tech, such long implementation times are unviable. In the meantime, our data consumption is growing unprecedently and robust data facilities capable of assuring high performance low latency processing at the edge are in short supply.
Enter the new provider
Much of today’s data needs to be handled as close to the source as possible, i.e., in city centres, in factories, in mixed used properties and so forth, for operability and safety reasons. By the same token, swathes of office space, warehouses and mixed-use premises are being left empty, generating zero revenue thanks to changing working trends, and business owners relocating to smaller premises with cheaper rentals. Such an abundance of vacant/disused properties is presenting commercial real estate companies with exciting opportunities to generate alternative revenue streams by repurposing their distressed assets into lucrative data centres and colocation facilities. The downside is that said properties typically need a total refit if they are to accommodate the specialist HPC infrastructure needed for data processing. Moreover, any property redevelopment must comply with stringent building regulations pertaining to sustainability and, as such, the lead times are just as long, if not longer, than commissioning a data centre from scratch.
What is needed is a viable means for real estate companies and facilities to transform their disused assets into powerful data centre and colocation facilities to meet the edge data centre shortfall, but this has not been possible, due to financial constraints and excessive redevelopment timescales.
However, this is about to change, thanks to a disruptive approach to edge data centres and colocation being spearheaded by DataQube global. Acutely aware of the edge data centre shortfall and the sustainability challenges the industry faces, the company together with a consortium of technology partners and critical infrastructure specialists have developed a novel data centre solution that overcomes these property refurbishment barriers.
Unlike other data centres, the solution is podular in design, built from lightweight material and supplied flatpack which removes the need for planning permission or property refurbishments to accommodate specialist HPC infrastructure. This, in turn, shortens install times by up to 50% as no concrete foundations nor heavy duty cranes are needed. This is a significant timeline acceleration in an industry that averages two years to fully build and fit out. Additionally, with reduced construction overheads, final costs are at a much lower price point, typically less than a £1 million compared to traditional builds.
Most importantly, all the IT is housed within compact, secure and sterile units which reduce power consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 50% because the energy transfer is dedicated solely to powering computers. This equates to a PUE of less than 1.05, the lowest in the industry and perfectly aligned with current LEED standards to support sustainable building practices and net zero targets.
With heightened demand for localised data processing, combined with an ongoing backlog of regular construction projects, innovative approaches are needed not only to meet the edge computing shortfall but to provide commercial real estate with an easy means to diversify and developing new revenue streams and business models. DataQube’s unique solution is perfectly aligned to bridge this gap.