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Data Center Networking Trends to Think About in 2020

By: Alan Seal on August 22, 2019

Data center networking trends can change rapidly as new technologies emerge to upend existing infrastructure and practices. When evaluating their data solutions, organizations should carefully monitor data center colocation trends that could impact their long term business strategy. Failing to account for these future data center trends could leave their network infrastructure unprepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Data Center Networking Trends to Think About in 2020

Edge Computing and IoT

The rapid proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has caused many organizations to rethink their network architecture. Cloud computing was a groundbreaking technology because it allowed people to connect to networks with a variety of devices across great distances, but the centralized nature of those networks make them poorly suited for deploying IoT devices at scale. They remain highly centralized, forcing devices to send data back to the core servers for processing before they can actually respond based on the analysis. Since data is constrained by the laws of physics, it takes time for it to travel to the heart of the network and back again, introducing latency into the system and compromising device performance.

Edge computing architecture, which pushes core processing functions closer to the outermost edges of the network where most data is gathered and where many users actually access digital services, allows devices to respond much faster based on the data they observe. Whether using nearby edge data centers to streamline analysis or processing information using their own internal hardware, IoT devices can greatly improve performance using edge computing networks.

Decline of the Private Data Center

Gartner made headlines around the tech world in 2018 by releasing an article predicting that 80 percent of enterprises would shut down their traditional data centers by 2025. While the prediction sparked a variety of responses, many readers failed to recognize that Gartner’s bold pronouncement was actually quite narrow in focus. Most of the factors driving the trend, such as interconnection services, cloud computing, and SaaS platforms, still rely on data center infrastructure, which helps explain the ongoing data center growth trends.

What Gartner actually highlighted was the rapid shift away from private data center solutions. As organizations implement new network services, they often find themselves needing to upgrade their data center infrastructure to accommodate those demands. Given the high costs of building out a new facility, many of these companies will opt instead for alternatives like partnering with a colocation provider to meet their new data needs. Carrier-neutral colocation data centers have the interconnection capabilities to make the most of the latest data networking trends.

Network Agility

Tomorrow’s networks will need to be incredibly flexible to meet the connectivity needs of customers. Being able to access data and services when they’re needed is crucial to any organization’s success. This is especially true for companies that rely upon multiple providers and platforms to deliver services to their customers. Without redundancies in place to ensure network availability, organizations leave themselves open to the crippling effects of system downtime.

Hybrid and multi-cloud architecture also makes it possible for companies to consolidate their networks under a single, easy-to-manage framework. Rather than juggling multiple systems, they can easily shift between their mission-critical applications to respond rapidly to changing customer needs. As IoT devices become more commonplace, networks will also need to be flexible enough to accommodate edge computing strategies to reduce latency and maximize performance.

Network Functions Virtualization

The data center trend of server virtualization has transformed computing infrastructure, greatly enhancing efficiency and performance while also being cost-effective. The same technology and techniques behind software defined data centers (SDDCs) have found another application when it comes to network architecture. Network functions virtualization (NFV) uses software defined applications running on virtual machines to manage different aspects of network infrastructure, such as firewalls or switching.

There are several advantages to NFV solutions, but the greatest benefits are in terms of cost and scalability. The ability to chain multiple NFVs potentially makes them more reliable and flexible than physical network infrastructure components. While there are a variety of unique challenges that come with integrating this new technology, this data center networking trend has the potential to greatly improve IT infrastructure in the future.

5G Infrastructure

By far one of the highest-profile trends in data center networking, 5G technology is finally starting to roll out in select markets after years of promise. Telecom carriers are already investing heavily in infrastructure and technologies that will take advantage of 5G, and any data center that delays preparing for this industry trend could find itself struggling to compete. As the reach of 5G networks expand, customers will expect the lightning-fast service they’ve been told to expect from this innovative technology.

For any company looking to expand its edge computing services or IoT market share, 5G will be crucial to their success. Expected to be as much as 100 times faster than existing 4G networks and supporting millions of devices per square mile, 5G services will force organizations to rethink their network flexibility and develop applications capable of taking advantage of the technology’s potential.

Understanding the data center networking trends that could have an impact on the colocation market in 2020 could mean the difference between edging out the competition and falling behind for many data center customers. When selecting a colocation provider to capitalize on interconnectivity and operational efficiency, organizations should examine not only current trends in data center networking, but also future data center trends that might cause them to rethink their colocation needs following a migration.

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