Panel Recap: ITW 2021 Where are the New Data ‘Hubs’?

ITW panel 1

As our CEO Jim Nolte simply and proudly stated on a panel at International Telecoms Week (ITW) 2021, “We’re a disruptor.” 

During the discussion, Nolte joined a group of experts from across the globe to address the core topic: where are the new data hubs? Panelists offered expert views on drivers changing the locations of data hubs, how legacy assets are being challenged, what the coming years will bring for network infrastructure and more. Throughout the session, Nolte detailed how it will take disruptors like Bandwidth IG to deliver new infrastructure to serve the needs of enterprises in the years to come. 

Missed the panel? Not to worry! Keep reading for the key takeaways from the session at ITW 2021. 

Is the Edge the Same as a Data Hub?

Panelists began by addressing what and where data hubs are located, and how that relates to the edge. From being positioned at the base of cell towers, to sitting along the outskirts of major metropolitan areas or being located in Tier II cities, there are many definitions of where the edge is. However, one thing is agreed upon – data hubs need to move closer to where data is being generated, wherever that may be, so infrastructure at evolving data hubs can handle the growing transmission of data. 

“Today’s edge sites will become tomorrow’s data hubs,” said Nolte. “Edge sites will eventually evolve to the point where there are more and more of those facilities out there.”

With more data generated at the edge, the infrastructure to transmit it must evolve as well. Transporting data to and from edge sites back to major existing internet hubs adds latency and cost for operators and their customers.

What Factors are Changing the Locations of Data Hubs?

Next, the panel focused on the forces driving the shifting landscape. Developing nations must keep up with demands driven by enterprise network needs. One panelist discussed how the need will continue to arise for data hubs to move closer to enterprises in countries that are currently underserved with infrastructure. Network providers must keep pace for a truly global economy to exist and to allow global enterprises to remain competitive. 

Across the globe, the need for ultra-low latency driven by AI compute and IoT devices creates an unprecedented demand for improved infrastructure. Existing data centers with legacy fiber will struggle to support the demand that AI, IoT and other developing technologies place on them. There is an overwhelming need to update infrastructure to and from existing facilities to handle increasing demand from more markets.

Are Legacy Data Center Assets Still Providing Valuable Services?

The comments on legacy assets transitioned seamlessly to the next topic on whether legacy assets can continue to meet the needs of today. With Bandwidth IG being among the fastest growing pure play dark fiber providers, we believe strongly that new dark fiber networks, like our custom-built networks in the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Atlanta and Greater Portland, are ideally positioned to carry us into the future. 

Many legacy networks were initially placed years ago and have been cobbled together through acquisitions over the years. Nolte explained how splicing incompatible cables together contributes to signal loss, which negatively affects enterprises and data centers using those networks. Not to mention, many networks are in the same ditch, which means customers don’t have diverse routes. 

“Our observation has been that hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in data centers, and no additional investment in the network is taking place with incumbent operators,” commented Nolte. “As a result, you have a very expensive building relying on 20-year-old fiber. That fiber was initially placed to reach commercial buildings and cell towers but not to go directly to data centers. Latency is negatively impacted by having to take a circuitous route.”

Nolte went on to detail how a small number of customers are currently taking extreme measures with their existing IT infrastructure to meet the growing demand their businesses have for bandwidth, but that those situations will become the new normal over the next 10 years. One thing is becoming clear: the industry must advance its network capabilities to keep meeting demand

How are ‘Disruptors’ Affecting Data Hubs?

As industries evolve, there are always disruptors. They’re often very nimble and take advantage of rapidly shifting dynamics. Panelists were asked if this is a concern. All agreed that new ways of thinking are necessary because it challenges the industry as a whole to improve. However, it’s important to identify the right industry disruptors and partner with them when necessary to improve services.

As we started out by saying, we at Bandwidth IG like to think of ourselves as one of these disruptors. We’ve worked with several established data center providers, like Digital Realty, QTS Realty Trust, Switch Data Centers and others, to create stronger network capabilities. With each agreement, and by embracing our role as a disruptor, we positively affect the way existing data hubs are maintained and how new data hubs are built. 

“Data center operators are relying on a 20-year-old fiber asset. We’re finding that customers want quality, and they want it quickly, and they want a lot of inventory. For a legacy operator to do that, they need to decommission much of what they have in place, which is an expensive proposition for them. We’re happy to play the disruptor role, and we look forward to facing these companies in the market every day,” commented Nolte. 

Bandwidth IG at ITW 2021

Aside from watching our fearless leader on the panel, the Bandwidth IG team enjoyed networking with our peers and learning about industry trends at ITW 2021! 

If we missed connecting with you at ITW 2021 and you’d like to know how we can help your network evolve with brand new dark fiber, contact us anytime to talk! 

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