X Marks the spot

May 9, 2021

Finding the right location for your regional data centre

There’s more to moving data closer to customers than sticking a pin in a map

UK regional data centres are on the rise, supporting demand from mobile operators, hyperscalers, regional cloud providers, CDNs, enterprises and manufacturers. Why? They’re looking to bring data and services much  closer to users and customers to reduce latency and data transit costs. 

So how does one locate an edge data centre with certainty it is close enough to the regional population when it comes to cutting latency induced lag times on applications? 

For a country the size of the UK, data centre location may appear relatively straightforward. Compared to say, Canada or the US, we are tiny and the physical distances involved between regions and large cities are small by comparison. And, as one of the most crowded major countries in Europe with a high overall population density  – 725 per  mile compared to just 87 in the US –  it would suggest just a handful of data centres would be sufficient to get data close enough to the vast majority of the UK’s businesses and consumers.   

The thing is, away from the London metro area, easily the most densely populated area of the UK with around 9.4 million people, there are around 57 million more citizens to reach. Unlike London, these are dispersed unevenly throughout the UK. There are large conurbation areas around Birmingham in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester in the North West are sizeable with around 2.5 million people apiece. But elsewhere in the South West, Eastern coastal areas, much of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, population densities are much lower. Having said that, there are a few sizeable anomalies such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Cardiff. 

Muddying the waters, the working population has grown to be more productive working from home due to the pandemic. People are moving out of expensive cities to work in semi-rural areas which in turn puts more pressure on backhauling traffic to the few hyperscale data centres in the UK.  

The above illustrates that much more strategically positioned regional colocation facilities are urgently needed when it comes to edge computing. But it’s a not a one size fits all situation. 

The whole point is to put compute resources physically close enough to a local population in order to be able to reduce latency: the time it takes between the user instruction via their device to the request taking place. This so called ‘round trip time’ is measured in milliseconds. However the ‘blink of an eye’ – literally – may not be fast enough for increasing numbers of emerging applications: from gaming, driverless vehicles, virtual/augmented reality and remote surgery to AI-enabled machine learning/deep learning for industrial automation.

With this, edge data centre colocation must also also pay close attention to the proximity of existing or planned dark fibre infrastructure. This is crucial as edge data centres need accessibility to dark fibre routes serving regional areas and economic clusters. The more accessible and strategic they are in location, the more attractive they become as points of presence to carriers and ISPs looking for opportunities to connect and target new customers.        

The key is in the time and effort taken by data centre operators when thoroughly researching the UK’s local geography, populations and customer demographics. 

Done right this will pay off for customers in terms of their operational efficiencies and agility – through reduced latency – and cost reductions by cutting out the distances otherwise involved if backhauling data hundreds of miles to centralised data centres. A data centre in Birmingham or Bristol is simply not close enough if you are looking to serve, for example, the Greater Manchester area or North Yorkshire.   

Along with precise location, the data centres must be able to rapidly provision and scale compute and storage resources exactly when they’re needed – but without risk of compromising IT security and resilience.

With all the edge location ‘science’ involved, many cloud service providers, CDNs, mobile operators and enterprise organisations are now leaving it to the regional edge colocation experts.

Not only do these colo operators make it their business to keep pace with the latest critical data centre and network infrastructure required for ensuring applications and services remain up and running 24/7, they spend considerable time on due diligence – the why’s and wherefore’s in precisely locating regional facitlities exactly where they’re needed. Find out how and where Proximity Data Centres can help your business gain that X-Factor.

At Proximity, we currently have six high quality edge facilities in the UK with a further 14 sites planned over the next 18 months. This allows us to offer edge colocation support exactly where it’s needed: One SLA, one contract, one service desk for reaching 95% of the UK population. Stay tuned for more…     

John Hall, Managing Director, Colocation at Proximity Data Centres on 07715 546958 or email [email protected].

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