Micro Data Centers and Colocation Providers Will Enable a Future of Ubiquitous Connectivity

Driverless cars, drone-powered product delivery, and remotely monitored, environmentally controlled doghouses are but a few examples of the wondrous Internet of Everything. For the uninitiated, the Internet of Everything, or IoE, builds on the foundation of the Internet of Things (IoT) by adding network intelligence that allows convergence, orchestration and visibility across previously disparate systems. As we will learn further on, both micro data centers and colocation providers will play an integral role in enabling a future of ubiquitous connectivity.

One can envision the IoT as the equivalent of a railroad, including the tracks and connections, whereas the IoE is the railway line, as well as the connected trains, rail weather monitoring systems and sensors, departures and arrivals board, and even staff and customers. The Internet of Everything connects all these separate “things” into one cohesive whole, enabling these IoT-enabled devices and connected humans to communicate and share data with each other in real time.

Metaphors aside, the enormity of on-demand connectivity, compute, networking and storage necessary to enable the IoE will be challenging. Research firm Gartner forecasts that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by the end of the year, up 31 percent from 2016, and reach 20.4 billion by 2020.

Considered a direct outcome of the growing interest in IoT and IoE, edge computing brings bandwidth-intensive content and latency-sensitive applications closer to the user or data source. With edge computing, IT professionals can provide data processing power at the edge of a network instead of maintaining it in a Cloud. Because of the need for high-speed computing — which, for example, would be critical for a driverless car to be able to stop for traffic signs and avoid fender benders — edge computing is considered more reliable than Cloud computing.

While much information will still be uploaded and processed through the Cloud, some applications will demand ultra-fast access to data, requiring the use of physical infrastructure that is closer to the edge versus where the data is centrally stored. However, as information is exchanged between more local and centralized data center facilities, one must consider the challenges that will emerge as a consequence. These include possible service disruption as well as latency and network reliability issues.

The reality is that to enable the IoE many organizations will deliver specific IoT applications and services from a variety of data centers ranging from smaller in-house networking facilities to large colocation data centers. And this will have implications for the overall levels of resilience and security that will be expected.

Large data centers and colocation facilities have the highest standards for such functions as data backup, failover systems and physical security. Backups are performed regularly and there is ample storage and server redundancy, enhanced by virtualization, in the event of equipment failure. Highly redundant power and cooling systems are de rigueur, and physical security is strictly enforced to ensure no unauthorized access.

While some industry observers believe micro data centers will play a role in providing access at the edge of the network, it is unlikely these smaller facilities will possess comprehensive security measures for entrance and exit control, much less the same level of redundancy as a colocation provider. Additionally, the sort of applications hosted locally may be used only by a minority of IT staff but are also more likely to be proprietary applications, specific to the organization and mission critical to operations. Therefore, when calculating the overall availability of IT services, it’s important for an organization to understand the variance between different types of data centers so that it can better assess the strength or vulnerability of its IT assets, and determine which applications to host where. This will be imperative in an era of increasingly ubiquitous connectivity to people, places and things, and as businesses continue their digital transformation.

Telehouse offers high-performing colocation services for organizations’ business-critical data. With 48 data centers globally, Telehouse provides redundant power, high security and seamless interconnection to hundreds of service providers at all its facilities.

Originally published at on May 19, 2017.