Evolving the Edge in 2021

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On April 14, Hugh Carspecken, DartPoints Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, joined a panel at the DCD>Building the Edge virtual event on edge infrastructure innovation and deployment. The session, titled How is North America’s Edge data center industry evolving in 2021? Featured Nirav Shah, Managing Director | Infrastructure at EQT Partners, a global investment organization founded in 1994, dedicated to investing in, developing, and owning companies across multiple regions, sectors and business models and Paul Reddick, VP, Strategy, Business and Product Development at Crown Castle.

Led by session moderator George Rocket, CEO and Co-Founder of DCD, the all-star panel brought together perspectives from a tower company, an edge specialist deployment organization, and an investor to explore how technology, investment, and collaboration dynamics are evolving across the North American market. Together, they tackled topics including Where is the Edge in the U.S. today? How are hyperscale investments changing business models and strategies? Where are the Telcos gravitating? All building toward a fascinating exchange around areas of collaboration, competition, and coopetition, especially where and how this is shifting customer focus.

Where is the Edge?

“Edge essentially is just wherever the request and the action upon that request occurs,” said Carspecken, setting the table in capturing current thinking around edge markets in 2021. “DartPoints is looking to extend that [performance] impact even further, and place facilities and infrastructure where they currently don’t exist in ways that are easily usable for content providers and carriers.” The level of interconnection and peering that is needed to transform many of these markets requires purpose-built carrier-neutral data centers with efficient connectivity.

New demands for more content at ever-lower latencies are, in some cases, actually shifting the idea of underserved markets back into what used to be Tier One markets. This exchange highlighted one of the challenges at the edge: the borders are defined by constantly evolving performance measures that are anything but static.

What About the Hyperscalers?

Turning to the influence of hyperscale investments and deployments in the U.S. Edge markets, George Rocket probed how this cash influx is touching the panelists’ business. How are these huge infrastructure build outs changing the landscape, if at all?

Paul Reddick observed that Crown Castle is engaged in discussions with most of the major hyperscalers, primarily around the idea of shared infrastructure. Because the economics are not as good the further out you go – and the smaller the customer pools get – even the deepest pockets are seeking areas of collaboration, including between hyperscalers and Telcos, around like software to run networks more effectively.

“The question is,” says Carspecken, “Where are they going to want to distribute into the edge and how are their users going to find … that content and those resources.” He goes on to describe the DartPoints view of local digital ecosystems where an array of local stakeholders from up and down the stack, including carriers and hyperscalers, that keeps the market focused on the customer and local needs to drive opportunity. As Carspecken puts it, “We are a demand driven company.”

Catch the rest of the fascinating discussion around the U.S. Edge market, the players and the opportunities in this one-hour on-demand session available at DCD>Building the Edge On-Demand.

Edge Data Center Industry

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