As the need for digital infrastructure continues to surge, significant investments are now being made in areas outside major metropolitan areas, traditionally known as core or hub markets. Smaller cities such as Birmingham Alabama and Greenville South Carolina are referred to as edge markets since they are outside the major data center and communications hubs. So, what exactly is driving the accelerating race to the edge in the Southeast?
What’s Driving the Race to the Edge in the Southeast?
There are many reasons for the expansion of the edge that are frequently discussed by industry pundits. These include the growth of 5G networks, the rapid increase in IoT devices, the need for low latency access to compute resources, and the ability to bring content closer to where it is consumed. However, these are all technical enablers for reaching the edge, so what is driving the need? The simple answer is, we are.
We, as consumers, have come to expect that we can order a product online and have it shipped to our door in a day or two. We want to have a cab (aka Uber) pick us up within minutes. We want to stream movies, sports, and music to our homes and while we are on the road. We need our online games to look life-like and respond to our actions instantaneously. The leaders in many industries, and the technology companies that enabled them, have helped to set our expectations. Which means that all those companies following the leaders had better get on board, and fast.
The “customer experience” is now a critical component of many companies’ digital transformation initiatives. Customers expect to have immediate access to the information or service they need from any device from any location and are increasingly impatient with responses of more than a second or two. If you are a user in an edge market, you may be disappointed. Network latency, or the time it takes for data to travel from the customer to the system processing their request, must be minimized to ensure a rapid response to their queries. With limited local network capacity and longer circuitous routes between the user and processing system, the user’s experience will be impacted. This is exactly the reason that social media giants and other content providers are deploying their systems in data centers in more locations around the world. They need to get infrastructure closer to their users to improve response times.
The problem is even more challenging when the application cannot properly function without low latency. Applications like media streaming, computerized trading and multi-player online gaming are great examples. To minimize latency, you simply need to have compute resources running those applications (or caching data) closer to the end user. The physics around the speed of light limits the ability to move data long distances to process the transaction and return the data in sufficient time. Thus, edge computing has emerged as a significant trend to enable the running of latency-sensitive applications at the edge and contributing to the requirements for more digital infrastructure in edge markets.
The desires and expectations of consumers and the need for businesses to digitally transform in growing cities and communities across the Southeast are no different than the needs of companies located in any major city across the globe. Unfortunately, many can’t transform as quickly as they would like. In many cases, it’s not for lack of perceived need or desire, it’s that they simply don’t have access to the same quality and capacity of digital infrastructure as that of the major markets.
High-Capacity Digital Infrastructure is on its Way
Just like everywhere else, businesses serving the Southeast need secure, reliable data centers to house and protect their legacy infrastructure, private cloud environments, and edge compute deployments. They need 5G-enabled cell towers to transmit and deliver more data to and from mobile and IoT apps. They need high-capacity long-haul fiber networks to carry data to core Internet Exchange points. And they need local fiber networks with the capacity and flexibility to move that data across all of that infrastructure.
The really good news is that leading-edge, high-capacity digital infrastructure is on its way to the Southeast. There are many drivers and contributors. For example, DC BLOX is building tier III-designed colocation data centers in smaller, growing Southeastern cities including Chattanooga, Tennessee, Birmingham and Huntsville Alabama, and Greenville South Carolina. DC BLOX has also built a regional network to enable access to 30+ carriers built-in to its interconnected data centers, the Atlanta and Nashville Internet Exchanges, and direct private access to all major public cloud providers. Each DC BLOX data center serves as a local Connectivity eXchange offering access in each respective market to an abundance of connected networks and business entities.
The Hyperscalers Are Coming
The hyperscalers are also coming to the Southeast. Google has built data centers in Alabama and South Carolina and is expanding their facilities in Georgia and Tennessee while opening a new office in Atlanta in 2022. Microsoft is building three new data centers in Georgia, having recently announced metro Atlanta as its “East US 3” data center region. The company has also announced plans to build four new data centers in North Carolina. Meta has operating data centers in Alabama and North Carolina, with new construction underway in Georgia and Tennessee. Apple has nearly 1 million square feet of data center space in North Carolina and has committed $448 million in construction, improvements and equipment on its 465 acres of acquired land over the next ten years. And when the hyperscalers come, they stimulate the development of nearby hyperscale-capable facilities, dark fiber networks and other digital infrastructure that, in most cases, can be leveraged by other network providers, data center operators, and businesses throughout the region.
Google has recently announced its new Firmina subsea cable connecting Myrtle Beach South Carolina to Argentina and Brazil. Though Google will leverage the cable to carry its own traffic to South America, capacity will be available to other providers needing to exchange data traffic between the two continents. Today, DC BLOX, is building the Myrtle Beach cable landing station and is anticipating at least five subsea cables along with their affiliated sub-tenants and terrestrial network partners.
With the expectation of a substantial amount of international data traffic through the Myrtle Beach location, DC BLOX has initiated construction of a dark fiber route from Myrtle Beach, passing by Charleston South Carolina, Augusta Georgia, the key carrier hotels at 55/56 Marietta St. and 180 Peachtree St. in Atlanta, and ultimately landing in Lithia Springs Georgia. The dark fiber route will be available to hyperscalers, global and regional communications providers, local governments, and enterprises across South Carolina and Georgia to help them develop new services for their organizations and end customers.
The new Myrtle Beach to Atlanta dark fiber route has the additional benefit of providing desperately needed middle-mile connectivity to support many underserved rural communities along the route. Electric and telephone cooperatives in many of these areas are constructing rural broadband networks and having local data centers and access to high-capacity network infrastructure is vital to accomplishing their mission to bridge the digital divide.
The hyperscalers are the drivers behind a massive increase in new fiber network infrastructure capacity globally. With the goal of bringing their service infrastructure closer to their consumers, they are breaching the edge. While the previous growth of the Internet was enabled by the telecom companies, this new era of development is clearly owned by the hyperscalers: Google, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, and Apple. Their presence, investments, and partnerships are changing the digital landscape, forever.
The movement of digital infrastructure to the edge in the Southeast is not the initiative of a single entity. It is being driven by bold visionaries from many digital infrastructure companies that are now making the investments necessary to meet the need for distributed digital infrastructure in every market in the region. It is a team effort that requires partnerships across hyperscale providers, carriers, dark fiber network providers, data center operators, government, and financial investors. Though there are many Southeast markets still considered to be at the edge, the “edge” will soon be no longer.
About DC BLOX
DC BLOX owns and operates interconnected multi-tenant data centers and dark fiber solutions that deliver the infrastructure and connectivity essential to power today’s digital business. DC BLOX’s private network fabric and robust connectivity ecosystem enable access to built-in carriers, Internet exchanges, public cloud providers, and DC BLOX data centers to businesses across the Southeast. DC BLOX’s data centers are located in Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Huntsville, AL; Chattanooga, TN; Greenville, SC, and the future cable landing station in Myrtle Beach, SC. For more information, please visit www.dcblox.com, call +1. 877.590.1684, and connect with DC BLOX on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook