It’s unquestionable that investment in data center infrastructure will continue for the foreseeable future. For quite some time, the investment was primarily in massive data centers consolidated in strategic locations (e.g. Ashburn, VA) to serve up a variety of internet-based services.

However, with the advent and rise of enterprise-based cloud offerings from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Google as well as consumer-oriented services such as Netflix, the market is forced to rethink its data center strategy. It’s quickly coming to the conclusion that creating a distributed data center fabric makes the most sense to handle that scope of traffic if it’s seeking to optimize for performance, security, and economics.

Building out data centers at “the edge” makes sense from a performance standpoint in that it eliminates network bottlenecks, moving key elements of the content, data or application closer to the user. Enterprise customers gain the benefit of cloud on-ramps to drive proximity and performance between them and their key cloud platforms such as Microsoft.

Likewise, internet traffic from major wireless providers will no longer consolidate into only one or two regional centers when serving markets as large as Texas. Given the sheer volume of internet traffic that is expected to increase over the next 5-10 years, performance is of paramount concern. Netflix can’t expect users to accept increase buffering time. ERP systems can’t take hours or days to update. Doing so will only compromise user experiences and operations.

Data center operations will use location intelligence

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While the decision to move to “the edge” is fairly simple, where to specifically move to becomes the difficult question. Enterprises desire quick, easy access to on-ramps of key service providers like Microsoft or AWS and will want to buy other enterprise services like backup and recovery from managed service providers. On the other side of the coin, cloud service providers want to be closer to the customer for aforementioned performance gains. As a data center operator, the key to maximizing growth in this environment is to select and penetrate a market with the right location-based insight that will satisfy all key parties.

Location intelligence provides data center operators with critical insight about tenants and locations. Let’s say, for instance, a data center operator that services the enterprise wanted to evaluate a potential build out in Syracuse, NY. They would first need to understand if there is enough business to justify investment in that lower tier market. They would need to use location intelligence to answer the questions: what enterprises are present in Syracuse? Are they part of my target market? Would a provider like Google want to partner with me to service this market, or gain access to proximity to the traffic going to their key web assets?

None of those questions are feasible to answer without high quality, location-based tenant intelligence. Moreover, failure to answer these questions could lead to a failed or sub-par data center build out.

Location-based network intelligence is equally important to data center operators. They will need to answer questions such as: Which network providers in the area could service the data center? Do these same networks have direct connections into enterprises in the area that are interested in the type of enterprise services that I could provide? As mentioned, circuitous network paths are not ideal and could severely damage growth potential of a data center in a particular market. Conversely, being able to identify and select the right network operator for an “edge” or “micro edge” build out will result in more interest from enterprise customers that want to consume cloud-based services from the data center operator and/or their cloud service provider partners.

Start with simple, compelling use cases

Ultimately, it’s important to think through simple yet compelling use cases before investing in location intelligence. Data-driven insight will continue to transform data center operations but knowing what business problem to solve for first is equally important and will direct investment and interest. However, those data center operators that do invest in location intelligence will make smarter, more strategic decisions that will enable them to capitalize most on the push to the edge movement.