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How Price of Power is Driving Data to the Edge

By Juan Penaranda
Published: August 18, 2021

The amount of data we transfer around the world increases daily, and as it grows our networks require even more power to operate effectively. Whether it’s videoconference streaming across global offices, remote lessons from schools, or text messages between friends and family, every day we’re plugging in and drawing more energy to fuel our interconnected world. Just as the demand for power grows, so do the costs for supplying it. These trends call for faster, more efficient, and more sustainable networks – so how do we ensure our energy sources can keep up while our costs stay down?

We’ve noted before how power and its associated costs are playing an increasingly important role in how we build the systems used to transfer data from point A to point B. This has been especially noticeable in the last year-and-a-half amid COVID-19, as the pandemic has turned our world virtual and put more pressure on networks to perform like never before.

Providers now face the question of how to scale their networks to meet demand while still keeping costs as low as possible. The pandemic may have fast-tracked this pivot, but the demand for more bandwidth, and with it more power usage, is only going to continue. Networks need to go beyond meeting the needs of today and instead forecast needs years down the road.

One of the best ways leaders can meet demand now and in the future is by migrating data workloads to the edge. Edge computing combines a decentralized approach to network connectivity that better enables mobile computing and Internet of Thing (IoT) – two huge trends for data sharing. It’s a critical step that will ensure data networks continue to run smoothly and effectively for years to come.

To understand the extent to which power consumption and costs will impact networks moving forward, it’s important to look at just how much has changed in the last few years. The digital divide between rural and urban communities continues to shrink, giving more people access to fast, inexpensive networks; as high-quality video and streaming become a go-to for everyday consumers, the demand for low-latency bandwidth increases.

These changes mean more power will be needed to meet our data demands, and many of the current network solutions we have in place cannot keep up – at least not without driving up costs. Huge data centers were once seen as the best means of ensuring data connectivity, and while this approach may have worked years ago, the landscape has transformed far too much for this to remain sustainable. More consumers means greater geographic distances for data to travel and increased pressure for low-latency solutions. Edge computing tackles these challenges head-on by reducing distance between data points and consumers, ensuring greater connectivity at a much higher rate than supplied by centralized centers.

Hyperscale and cloud data centers can balance efficiency with cost-effectiveness, as they can build at scale and allow networks to be built closer to where the data is flowing, eliminating high-latency issues and reducing the amount of power required to run a single network. They also address the shrinking digital divide, turning rural areas that once had to rely on larger networks with lagging speeds into opportunities for hyperscale deployment that brings more consumers into the fold.

Labor shortages within the tech industry, especially among fiber optic splicers, means the factory assembled solutions used in smaller centers will benefit operators migrating to the edge. The speed of data center deployment is also important to consider, as a delay of even a few days can result in lost revenue. Centers that bring data to the edge require less upstart time and can get networks running much sooner compared to their traditional counterparts.

From autonomous vehicles to utilities to mobile communications, we are going to need more energy moving forward to power our networks, and we must find solutions that balance seamless data delivery with cost-effective systems. Edge computing technologies meet consumers and providers in the middle by offering the low-latency, reliable data transfer people want with the cost-effective implementation and upkeep that companies need.  Preconnectorized solutions like EDGE™ Rapid Connect are the way of the future, and their efficiency will give operators faster speed-to-revenue returns that make all the difference. Migration to the edge isn’t a matter of when – it’s now, and leaders must be prepared to embrace the transformation to stay ahead. 


Juan Penaranda is a data center specialist in market development for Corning Optical Communications. He specializes in multi-tenant data centers and data center interconnects, analyzing the market and focusing on how trends such as AI, the Internet of Things, and 5G will affect this data center market segment.


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