What is the Data Center’s Role in a 5G World?

Data centers are necessary to take full advantage of 5G speeds

There are a lot of great reasons to get excited about 5G. From a technical perspective, these include: 

  • Single-digit millisecond latency.
  • 10 gigabyte-per-second download speeds.
  • Connection density of up to 1 million connected Internet-of-Things devices per square kilometer.

But the real marvel of these technical specifications is what they’ll help us achieve. By supporting massive machine-to-machine networks that transmit real-time data to and from IoT endpoints, 5G will enable highly-reliable technologies that can act within milliseconds to save lives, conserve natural resources and improve quality of life. A 5G network may help sustain innovations like:

  • Healthcare facilities can remotely monitor out-patient vitals in real time.
  • Ambulances can wirelessly communicate with traffic signals while simultaneously transmitting patient data to trauma centers.
  • Agricultural companies can monitor livestock health with wirelessly connected ear tags.
  • Self-driving vehicles, including crop harvesters and semi-trucks, can make decisions in milliseconds.
  • Augmented reality applications paired with headsets and smart glasses can enhance building design, medical training, engineering, tech support, public safety and transit operators (just to name a few beneficiaries) by providing real-time, visual and audio insights.

Many of these applications are currently being tested, if they are not already in use. But one practical barrier to their widespread deployment in real-world use cases has been bandwidth and latency, both problems that 5G and edge computing help solve.

Where do data centers fit in this dynamic?

More data moving faster means a greater need for data centers. Interconnection facilities will likely see a notable flux in demand since they’re able to hand-off workflows between facilities and connect to multiple networks. This will be especially important for 5G. To fully capitalize on its low latency to deliver an exemplary user experience, data centers will need powerful connectivity with as many networks as possible. Data center interconnect (DCI) will be crucial for quickly moving content to edge facilities and to end users.

Speaking of the edge: Even with 5G’s speed, light can only travel so fast. In use cases such as self-driving vehicles or wireless technology used in first-responder missions, users will truly need to tap into that single-digit latency to prevent delays that could affect critical real-time operations. The IoT doesn’t just need a fast network or a reliable network; it needs a reliably fast network.

Edge data centers essentially bring the data closer to end users to cut back on latency, both for user experience purposes and, in the case of IoT devices being used in healthcare and law enforcement, to save lives. Consequently, we’ll not only see more edge data centers, but also new form factors for data centers.

Tim Mirick of Sabey Data Centers imagines a world with small data centers on lampposts and roof-tops that will support mission-critical data that needs to be close to end users for purposes such as assisting in real-time transit operations (e.g., autonomous vehicles).

Data centers, as they get bigger, will almost be in concentric rings away from these miniature facilities, as you support the long-term storage and compute cycles that don’t have to be quite as immediate,” Mirick said.

In other words, the remote data center campuses we know today will still be crucial for many everyday computational use cases as well as storing data that has value beyond the immediate present.

If anything, there will be more of them to help sustain the massive quantities of data we’ll generate in a 5G world, and they’ll be better connected than ever before.

At Sabey Data Centers, we’ve already begun planning for this very near future. To learn about some of the extraordinary use cases we help sustain in our very own facilities, feel free to contact us today.

Will Your Data Center Support Growth?Scaling a data center is one of the most challenging tasks an organization can face.

Recent Blog Posts