Local is Good

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Content Copyright © 2015 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: IT Infrastructure

Close to the points of inter-connectivity; where there is plentiful, green energy; where it is cold; where there is access to networks; in secure locations; near big cities; where there are good tax incentives…etc., etc., etc.
Every data centre operator will stress the benefits of their particular location, but in among the marketing messages the local data centre has been a forgotten and often derided orphan. As one executive from a major co-location provider told me, “choosing a local data centre located away from the major network hubs is like flying with Ryanair. The flight is very cheap, but you spend £100 on a taxi getting to the city centre”.
Now it seems there is a growing sense that local might in fact be very good.

Access and Proximity.

Despite cloud and the internet people still want to see and touch something physical. This is particularly the case with co-location. With more and more enterprises moving compute and store applications out of their own data centres they don’t want the cost and time penalties of sending their engineers and operations staff on lengthy journeys to a distant data centre, or getting snarled up in traffic trying to get to somewhere like Docklands. If I’m an oil field support organisation in Aberdeen do I really want my servers located near the M25, or in a state of the art data centre in Aberdeen? If I’m a City of London based business without the absolute need for the near zero latency of global trading systems, wouldn’t it be good to have access to a datacentre in the heart of the City? In renders we are increasingly seeing customers specify that the data centre needs to be within 100 miles or 2 hours of the customer’s office.

The Networks are good enough.

10 years ago the Ryanair jibe might have been near the truth. Nowadays the availability of high speed network connections at reasonable cost across most developed economies is good enough for most applications. A data centre in Norwich or Nantes is nowadays hardly more disadvantaged than those on the outskirts of London or Paris. Only those sitting right on top of the pipes or alongside the internet exchanges can really claim to have an edge on the latency front, and that comes at a cost.

Talking of the Edge.

In the US we have seen the rise of Edge data centres; smaller facilities located closer to key customer concentrations, and there is increasing talk about and interest in such facilities in Europe. This is being driven in part by the large content providers such as Netflix. If a customer gets half way through a film and pauses he or she wants it to restart again almost instantly. This has led to streamed content being cached locally in such circumstances. The Internet of Things is also a potential driver. The millions of devices communicating every second of every day produce huge amounts of data, much of which has a shelf life measured in days. The cost of transporting it across the network and storing it doesn’t make sense, so again local data centres will feature more as this paradigm grows.

Facilitating better local connectivity.

There are still parts of Britain that are semi-rural with mid-sized towns where high speed interconnectivity for local businesses is frankly poor. The arrival of a new local data centre operator bringing good fibre trunking links can act as a catalyst for local VARs, Chambers of Commerce and business groups to get together and support that data centre becoming in effect a local ISP.

There is still a major need for the globally interconnected data centres. Large scale compute requirements will still benefit from mega scale facilities in energy efficient locations. Specialist ultra-secure data centres will appeal to certain organisations. But for many businesses local data centres may offer the best combination of performance, price and convenience, and you can be sure you know where your data is being stored…but that is a whole other question.

This post first appeared on the old Cassini Reviews website.