Oct 14, 2020

Equinix: COVID-19 to accelerate digital transformation

IT
Cloud
Edge Networks
Harry Menear
3 min
Increased demand for private connectivity in the age of COVID-19 is expected to accelerate digital infrastructure transformation
Increased demand for private connectivity in the age of COVID-19 is expected to accelerate digital infrastructure transformation...

COVID-19 is having a profound impact on the pace of global digital transformations. A new report from data centre operator Equinix has found that the ongoing pandemic is dramatically affecting the ways in which businesses are planning their digital infrastructure strategies. 

Increased commercial emphasis on the digital economy will, the report predicts, cause digital service providers in the telecommunications, cloud and ICT, content and digital media, and technology industries to increase their usage of private connectivity bandwidth five times over by 2023. 

According to Equinix's Global Interconnection Index Volume Four, "The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to transform how they operate, driving extraordinary demand for digital service providers and a need for increased interconnection—private data exchange."

The overall connection bandwidth measuring the amount of data transferred between enterprises is expected to increase at a CAGR of 45% between 2019 and 2023. The increased traffic, Equinix finds, will be driven by ongoing global digital transformation initiatives, which will place greater demands on the data centre industry, as enterprises extend their digital infrastructure from centralised locations to the distributed edge. 

In a report released last month by Gartner, senior analysts David Cappuccio, and Henrique Cecci wrote: "As interconnected services, cloud providers, distributed cloud, edge services and SaaS offerings continue to proliferate, the rationale to stay only in a traditional data centre topology will have limited advantages. This is not an overnight shift, but an evolutionary change in thinking how we deliver services to our customers and to the business. This trend, coupled with the new reality that outside factors might limit physical access to the data centre (such as emergency quarantine), is driving new thinking in infrastructure planning.” 

Latin America and APAC are predicted to experience the highest rates of interconnection bandwidth growth over the period measured by Equinix’s report, with CAGRs of 47% and 50% respectively. 

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Courtesy of Equinix

In Europe, the telecommunications and cloud & IT industries are expected to account for the majority of growth, with Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and London contributing to the majority of the growth. Dublin will likely also play a key role in Europe’s digital evolution, as a new report by Knight Frank and DC Byte identified the Irish capital as one of Europe’s “Gigawatt Markets” in terms of data centre capacity over the next few years. 

Bandwidth expansion in the US is expected to progress at a CAGR of 43%, led primarily by Silicon Valley, Washington DC, Chicago and New York.

Around the world, traditional business verticals are beginning to make more noticeable efforts to digitally transform their IT infrastructures, with the largest gains expected to be in the healthcare, life sciences, government and education sectors. Organisations in these fields are expected to “lead the traditional enterprises in their interconnection growth rate”, largely motivated by these sectors’ adoption of AI and ML technologies, which Equinix predicts will drive a combined CAGR of 47% in interconnection bandwidth from 2019 to 2023.

"Digital leaders have to prepare for post-pandemic recovery by planning and implementing the right digital transformation initiatives now," said Claire Macland, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Equinix

"We believe those that have a foundational infrastructure which helps bring together all the right places, partners and possibilities will gain a business advantage over the long term."

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Jun 6, 2021

Unlocking the next chapter of the digital revolution

Dell
servers
IT
Technology
Tim Loake
5 min
Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies highlights the importance of often-overlooked digital infrastructure

As the world retreated to a hybrid world in 2020, our reliance on technology took the spotlight. But it was the jazzy new social and video calling platforms that took the encore. Behind the scenes, our servers worked overtime, keeping us connected and maintaining the drumbeat of always-on newly digital services.  Let’s take a moment to pay our respect to the unsung technology heroes of the pandemic – the often-forgotten IT infrastructure keeping us connected come what may. After all, as we look ahead to more resilient futures, they will be playing a central role.

Servers could be likened to our plumbing – vital to well-functioning homes but rarely top of mind so long as it is functioning. Never seen, rarely heard – our servers do all the graft with little praise. But it is essential to reflect on the incremental advances in GPU and CPU power, which have paved the way for new workloads that previously were not possible. Chatbots and native language processing that provide essential customer touchpoints for businesses across the retail and banking sectors rely on powerful servers. They also keep businesses competitive and customers happy in an always-on world. 

Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies
Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies

Serving workplace transformation

But, as businesses grappled with pandemic disruptions, the focus was largely on adopting connected devices – and awe at the rapid increase in the datasphere.  As they reined in their budgets and attempted to do more with less, one aspect was perhaps overlooked—those hard working servers.

When it came to building resilience into a newly remote workforce, the initial concern was focused on the device endpoints – keeping employees productive.  Many companies did not initially consider whether they had the server infrastructure to enable the entire workforce to log in remotely at the same time. As a result, many experienced a plethora of teething problems: virtual office crashes, long waits to get on servers, and sluggish internet connectivity and application performance, often rendering the shiny new PC frustrating and useless.

Most businesses only had a few outward-facing servers that could authenticate remote workers – a vital gateway as the vector for cyber hacks and attacks increased exponentially. That’s not to mention the fact that many business applications simply weren’t designed to work with the latency required for people working from home. What businesses discovered at that moment was that their plumbing was out of date.  

Business and IT leaders quickly realised that to stay ahead of the curve in the hybrid working world, a renewed focus on building agile, adaptable, and flexible IT infrastructures was critical. More importantly, it accelerated the inevitable digital transformation that would keep them competitive in a data-driven economy. It is now abundantly clear to businesses that they need IT infrastructure to meet the demands of diverse workloads – derive intelligent insights from data, deploy applications effectively, and enhance data management and security.  

Ripe for a digital revolution

Unsurprisingly, IDC noted that there was an increase in purchases of server infrastructure to support changing workloads. However, it also forecasts this uptick will be sustainable and last beyond the pandemic. As the economy begins to reopen, business leaders are looking ahead. IT will continue to play a crucial role in 2021 and beyond – and we have already set the foundations for the digital revolution with next-generation servers. 

As we enter the zettabyte era, new innovative technologies are coming on stream, with 5G turbocharging IoT and putting edge computing to work.  Exciting new services improved day-to-day efficiencies, and the transformation of our digital society will be underpinned by resilient IT infrastructures.  By embracing the technological innovations of our next-generation servers, businesses keep pace with the coming data deluge.

The next generation of server architecture promises more power with less heat, thanks to improved, directed airflow, and direct liquid cooling, resulting in reduced operational costs and environmental impact. As we rebuild post-pandemic, manufacturers and customers alike strive to achieve ever more challenging sustainability goals. With this in mind, a focus on environmentally responsible design is imperative for the servers of tomorrow -  uniquely designed chassis for adaptive cooling and more efficient power consumption will be critical, improving energy efficiency generation over generation.

The most notable evolution is the configuration of these next-gen servers around more specific organisational needs. Unlike clunky and often unstable legacy infrastructure, the infrastructure of tomorrow will be sturdier and more modular. The next iteration is streamlined, and in this modular form, can be more easily tailored to business needs. This equates to essential cost savings as businesses only pay for what they use.  

Resolving the problem of the future, today

Tomorrow's IT challenges will focus on response times and latency as Edge and 5G technologies go mainstream. As businesses develop new and innovative services that utilise supercharged connectivity and real-time analytics, staying on top of these challenges will give them a competitive edge. For example, in the world of retail, automation will power new virtual security guards and even the slightest delay in the data relay could result in financial loss. 

Similarly, in the smart cities of tomorrow, the network must be responsive. With city-centre traffic lights controlled by an AI-powered camera that monitors pedestrians, delays in data transfers could cost the life of an elderly pedestrian who has fallen in the road. The stakes are far higher in a 5G-enabled world. As our reliance on technology deepens, the margins for error narrow, placing greater emphasis on the efficiency of those critical underpinning technologies.

Fully enabling the hybrid work model today is just a stepping-stone towards more fluid, tech-enabled lives. A work Zoom call from an automated vehicle on-route to an intelligent transport hub is a highly probable vision of our future. But it requires incredible amounts of compute and seamless data transfers to make it possible. These glossy snapshots need super servers to come to life, making that IT plumbing glisten with next-gen innovation essential. Without exemplary server architecture, we risk future tech advances and the human progression that it enables. 

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