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5G Edge Computing: How to Evaluate Colocation Providers

5G, the latest wireless network technology, is here. Technology leaders are thinking about how it fits into their digital transformation strategies, which are incorporating hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, edge computing and now 5G. But is your organization able to take full advantage of 5G and other upcoming new technologies? Legacy, centralized infrastructures can’t deliver the application performance and user experience enabled by edge and 5G.

Why are edge and 5G a technology game changer? Edge computing provides users with a local experience regardless of location because data is processed nearby instead of being transmitted back and forth to a hub data center hundreds of miles away. 5G promises blazing speed and higher capacity in terms of mobile network devices and user handsets. Together 5G and edge deliver applications with high reliability and low latency, which improves response times, enables new use cases, and ultimately makes for a happy user experience.

Check out this interview discussion that defines the edge and emerging opportunities for 5G.

A platform that optimizes digital transformation, edge and 5G

Today’s integration and connectivity needs make colocation and/or cloud partner ecosystems critical for future infrastructures. Certain data center elements are essential digital transformation building blocks for hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, edge and 5G:

  • The right interconnection – having access to a high volume of networks with which to interface
  • Ease of connectivity to clouds – along with real-time turn-up and turn-down capabilities
  • Scalability – the flexibility to start with any-size footprint and scale up as needed
  • Locations – nationwide edge locations that minimize latency for users

Not all data centers offer the same set of platform foundations, so organizations should validate capabilities that can help them plan and execute their strategies now and in the future.

How to evaluate platform providers

The following recommendations will help you compare colocation/interconnection providers and their partner ecosystems:

  • Look under the hood and be sure that cloud service providers (CSPs) are deployed on site. Find out if your cloud connection occurs within the walls of the provider’s data center or a hundred miles away. Many providers claim to have “access to clouds,” but they don’t actually have those clouds natively deployed onsite within their building. They may leverage a network-based solution to take you to another location or another city to connect with your cloud of choice. Dive into the details to understand how you are really connecting and what potential latency impacts this may have on your application. Also double check that the network solution they are using is fully redundant with diverse points of entry to the data center and no route overlap to wherever they are taking you to connect to the CSP. Otherwise, you could be in for a nasty surprise the next time some road construction takes out a fiber provider circuit in your area.
  • Verify your assets are secure and compliant. Check compliance certifications. The more certifications, the better, if they are issued by recognized external experts that certify procedures, processes and operations. Go beyond basics like HIPAA and PCI DSS and inquire about others like NIST, a federal-level certification. Even if your business isn’t a government agency, it’s reassuring to know the facility has been rigorously vetted as a place where the government has approved its agencies to be able to house their assets.
  • Validate reliability and uptime. Good indicators of reliability and uptime are the historical operating performance of a data center facility and the length of time the operations team has run the facility. Make sure team member has data center operations tenure individually and a long history of working together. Five-nines availability (99.999%) is the industry standard, but premier operators run at seven-nines or eight-nines reliability across their portfolios – a meaningful difference for application performance and user experience. 
  • Check the volume of network and cloud providers. A high number of network and cloud providers creates an optimized environment for your applications and offers you the opportunity for best rates on internet and transport circuits. Having dozens of network providers will create price competition for your business, and will give you the best reach to end users nearby regardless of their provider of choice. The right multi-cloud options onsite gives you the opportunity to leverage best of breed for each application across the CSP’s, while getting the highest throughput with the lowest latency to run your applications seamlessly, regardless of CSP option. The right depth of choice enables every business to design its preferred solution to optimize 5G and edge.
  • Design your network to capture cost savings and drive performance. Colocation and interconnection services reduce network acquisition costs. Deploying at the edge and right on top of the cloud onramps reduces bandwidth costs associated with legacy network designs that force too much network traffic across the country to centralized data centers. To drive the best experience, deploy your applications within 5 ms of your users.

The point of edge and 5G is to deliver reliable application performance and a superior user experience. The right data center partner can help you take full advantage of these latest network trends.  Do your research up front so that you aren’t left disappointed in the future.

To learn more, download a Heavy Reading paper, “5G’s Impact on Edge Infrastructure.”

Ben Green | Vice President, Sales & Strategic Customers
Ben is a 20 year telecom industry veteran. Based in Denver, Ben runs the Network, Channel and Central regions for CoreSite.