Big change for small data centres

The architecture of data centres and network infrastructure continues to undergo major transformation, driven largely by mobility and accelerated by the so-called ‘Internet of Things’. At a high level, rather than seeing the need for all an Enterprise’s servers in a single data centre in a central location, more enterprises are seeking out distributed servers across multiple data centres, very close to the edge – ultimately, closer to their customers.

The advancements in technology and platforms, as well as advancements in the broadband infrastructure, are also contributing to this transition. With more broadband networks being deployed and computing platforms advancing, price points for outsourcing are decreasing. The fact that outsourcing eliminates the need to staff multiple environments makes it an even more attractive option.

One clear example is from the ‘content’ side; we are seeing well established content delivery companies such as Akamai, Limelight and Netflix wanting to have their servers even closer to the edge, so latency is reduced. They’re also looking to establish multiple points of presence within a given market, so that redundancy is more in the network than it is in any actual facility.

This move is actually very similar to how the cable TV architecture developed over time. You initially had node sizes of around 6,000 homes allocated per node. Then, when providers started launching advanced services like voice and data that were latency-sensitive, they had to reduce their nodes to as small as 100 homes per node.

We’re starting to see the same thing on the internet-delivered content side; instead of having one large data centre, we’re now seeing hundreds of servers spanning continents and multiple data centres. Netflix is a good example, if everyone was trying to watch Game of Thrones at the same time and all the Netflix servers were all in one data centre, the network would suffer. By having hundreds of servers at the edge of the network across numerous locations, you have fewer people talking to each server, increasing redundancy and minimising latency.

It’s not just web-based that is becoming distributed; more and more business are growing their corporate footprint across numerous jurisdictions and continents. This office distribution introduces a similar challenge in terms of the Wide Area Network infrastructure required for retaining globally connected employees, data and corporate services.

So what this move also does is play right into the hands of the smaller operators – particularly those with footprints in or near key jurisdictions with high bandwidth connectivity between their sites. Instead of corporates digging deep into their budgets for dedicated leased lines connecting up their offices they can avail themselves of existing service provider’s networks. This is at a fraction of the cost, and in most cases at a service level which would be challenging to achieve ‘internally’.

It is the same situation in the eGaming market, where tailored solutions across multiple jurisdictions with access to global cloud and content services are becoming the norm. At Continent 8 we see that it’s become increasingly important to understand the unique business and compliance requirements of a given vertical and tailor specific solutions to that need. As more organisations outsource their infrastructure, it increases the need for third parties to really understand all aspects of the environment, applications, performance requirements, compliance requirements, etc.

What does remain true in all cases is that there is no ‘one size fits all approach’. each organisation has different business needs, capabilities and resources and therefore each case needs to be approached with the company’s strategic aims in mind.

Finding the right solution requires access to a range of products and services that can be bought together to tailor a solution that is best for you, rather than trying to bend requirements to fit into what is available.

Naturally at Continent 8 we are excited about this shift, as it dovetails perfectly into our continued growth strategy of further location and services development.

In recent years there’s been a lot of talk about globally distributed hybrid cloud, and given these moves it’s clear that operators who figure out how to best utilise it in conjunction with a more distributed and connected strategy will come out on top.

Article appeared in the iGaming Business March – April 2016

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