Meeting in the (Data) Center: Advanced Wireless and Network Convergence

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A recent session at the NEDAS Virtual Symposium brought together data center industry leaders to discuss how data centers are adapting to the wireless world from edge enablement to connectivity. Traditionally, data centers serve as a compute warehouse, connected by wireline fiber networks that enable data to go in and out seamlessly and effectively. In an age of convergence, adapting traditional fiber and wireline solutions to be wireless accessible is key to enabling ubiquitous communications.  As an association focused on convergence, NEDAS’ tagline: where wireline and wireless meet, served as a foundation for the group’s virtual event.  On a panel titled “Views from the Center,” participants discussed standard, non-standard and unique approaches to enabling communications convergence solutions for all – from the data center perspective.

A highlight of the discussion was about the importance of building ecosystems that enable edge computing, hybrid networking and end-to-end data delivery, regardless of what type of network you’re on.  Hybrid, a solution that leverages best capabilities of a number of different technologies and solutions, offers the ability to ensure network and data are delivered the most effectively with the best solution to reach end-user customers.

DartPoints’ Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Hugh Carspecken noted there are different business models that allow the edge ecosystem to profitably deploy and operate. “Understanding where some of these companies are located and how they are trying to move their data and reach their end-users is important. Each company within these industries consume the edge very differently, they consume it from what they are actually purchasing, and where they need to be. An edge to one company might be the core for someone else. Within each of those expectations there is a requirement, different levels of redundancy, and as a result, not a one size fits all.”

Other panelists shared their views of 5G and its effect on networking capabilities (from the data center), agreeing that the infrastructure perspective is an important consideration. They discussed one example of potential infrastructure conflict that could arise., If you’re a Content Delivery Network (CDN), you’re much better having a deployment that’s aggregated so that you can get higher efficiencies in your facility. Central Processing Units (CPU) in compute infrastructure, power and cooling are important considerations when planning deployments. When considering 5G network deployments, disaggregating the deep cell space requires fewer users, less servers and thus less CPUs required.

The panel discussion, held online during the pandemic, also touched upon the virtual workforce.  Panelists mentioned remote working, and how it is going to lead technologies like 5G to become even more prominent and necessary. They agreed that if we can take a technology like 5G that allows those immersive experiences, you can work anywhere.  Today’s main challenge is that the infrastructure that we have in residential areas will not accommodate the bandwidth that is going to be needed. The only other option is to come out and build 5G-enabled networks that offer alternative bandwidth solutions to enable a more mobile workforce, like we’ve always wanted. From Carspecken’s perspective, “5G is going to be a benefactor of the edge, but it’s not going to drive the edge. 5G and edge are going to come together and to create a powerful and productive impact, but they are going to need to keep independently growing.”