Green House Data has released its survey on edge data centers. The company surveyed 492 IT professionals, with 38% being executive level. The results indicate a mild interest in edge data centers, but mostly for future deployments. 18% currently use an edge data center, with 46% planning to add an edge facility within the next 12 months. 54%, meanwhile, do not plan to add an edge data center.

What do IT professionals like about edge data centers?

Green House Data also polled IT workers about the perceived advantages of edge data centers. The biggest advantage reported was lower bandwidth costs from shorter backbone transport, with 52% listing it as a benefit. 50% saw access to more content providers and carriers as a main advantage, while 47% liked the possibility of lower latency for local markets. Another 50% also saw the benefit of cheaper colocation space away from expensive primary markets.

What does the industry believe is necessary for a facility to be an “edge data center”?

Edge data centers are commonly defined as having latency benefits, local peering, many content providers located inside, and located away from major metros. Some definitions also include the requirement of caching the majority of internet traffic from popular sites, as well as serving a significant portion of bandwidth to the local population.

But, is that how edge data centers are perceived in the industry?

Of the 492 respondents, the most important features of an edge data center were at least Tier 3 equivalent design and uptime (55%) and carrier neutrality (55%), although these are really almost basic requirements for a modern enterprise data center.

Another 45% said access to a wide variety of CDNs and content providers was a requirement for an edge data center. 45% also reported that serving a significant portion of bandwidth to the local population was important in edge facilities.

However, only 27% believed they had to be located away from major metro areas, possibly because small- to mid-sized cities often make up edge markets. Only 30% and 32% of IT professionals required a local peering exchange or 100 Gbps fiber, respectively, in an edge data center.

Thirty-six percent said that edge data centers should cache the majority of internet traffic from popular sites, like Netflix, Youtube, or Facebook.

It seems that local caching and distant geography are less important in defining edge data centers, while resilient design and a variety of options for connectivity are vital.

What does this mean for the future of edge data center facilities?

The Edge has become a popular topic in the past couple of years, but the definition continues to evolve. As connectivity improves and spreads across the country, is anywhere truly the “edge of the internet”? What is the difference between an edge market and an edge facility?

Bandwidth abilities and costs floated to the top in both our polling of advantages and requirements for edge data centers — not too surprising, as bandwidth costs, especially for media and content heavy traffic, can be a primary expense when outsourcing data center services. Pushing large data loads across many miles of fiber adds up quick, so edge locations allow that data to be placed closer to endusers.