Public demand is pushing the IT industry to deploy services faster than ever, as speed to market becomes the overriding object — especially for hyperscalers and multitenant data centers. Engineering companies have gone from being thought leaders to production engineers, pushing product out to a high level of detail to receive permits as well as construction administration services. At no other time in history have data center design services been in demand as they are now.

Facility design has turned to more of an industrial type of production versus the typical colocation spaces we have previously seen. Metal buildings are in play, and speed to market is more important than “fluff” in the lobby.

When it comes to new construction, there are several factors at play. The first is the installation of exterior containers. However, container capacity doesn’t meet the load required to support processing all too often. As we get into edge compute, this will be more distributed and difficult to install due to the number of installations required.

Analysts are predicting that 75% of processing will be pushed out to the edge — if, of course, we can determine how to deliver that to the public. The basis of edge revolves around the IoT. Currently, there are billions of smartphones and other devices connected to the internet. And, billions more are expected to come online in just the next few years.

The Race to the Edge

Multiple hyperscale software companies have developed packaged products ready to deploy in 10 to 20 rack systems within various areas of the country to support the last mile run to the edge. If we think about the deployment of cable TV, the access was first installed in urban markets and eventually crept to rural markets. Edge compute is expected to follow in a similar pattern.

There are several companies developing edge devices as well as second step products to support IoT processing. It’s unknown if the rate of deployment will be fast or slow; however, industry professionals are scratching their heads on where they fit in, trying to find their niche.  Currently, an engineering company will have over 20 engineers on a single campus to support hyperscale tenants.  Within the edge world, there may be 50 smaller installations dividing the same team into five sites per group. However, this doesn’t mean large campuses will be eliminated. It just means our operating method will be expanded into smaller installations too.

Speed in Delivery

There are several ways to get to a “speed in delivery” method.  One is to identity areas of your building that can support processing (i.e., containers or previously owned data center space). To be prequalified for edge installations is key to the success.  Abandoned data center space may be beneficial, whereas, previously, it was a hindrance. However, with edge, racks can be stalled independently, with their own cooling and UPS modules.  It’s not necessary to have data center space already designed or installed.  

The tasks that are required to complete edge installations include finding locations within urban environments that can support compute; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) installation; and commissioning.  

The biggest question on all of our minds today is, can the speed of deployment keep up with the demand?