Equinix, the interconnection and data centre company, is set open a 2.5MW data centre facility in Muscat, Oman, by the end of June next year as digitalisation is giving rise to more servers, storage and connectivity.
Jeroen Schlosser, Managing Director of Equinix Middle East and North Africa, told TechRadar Middle East that Muscat is the gateway to jump off the global highway that runs past the Middle East.
“The submarine fibre cables for internet runs from Asia along the Middle East to Egypt. All cables reach out to the Middle East and the nearest entry point is Oman. When looking at the network side, data that really flow, we believe that Muscat is a hub towards the region,” he said.
Equinix designs, builds and operates its data centres in a bid to interconnect with an extensive ecosystem of carriers, content providers and cloud providers.
To achieve this, Schlosser said that the data centre architecture needs to be deployed at the digital edge for direct and private traffic exchange between partners.
“Deploying direct and private connections propel both application performance and user experience,” he said.
Equinix operates three data centres in the UAE – two in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi.
“We have about 50 carriers in this data centre, 20 regional carriers and about 30 big Tier 1 carriers. We have around 35 small cloud providers from the Middle East and have four of the big cloud providers in our facility,” he said.
Region not ripe for edge computing
Currently, Schlosser said that a lot of IT systems and data sit inhouse or outside the region.
“Cloud is still a new technology in this region. 2020 will be the first time that enterprises and governments in this region can start building a true hybrid or multi-cloud strategy,” he said.
Key cloud providers such as Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Alibaba, SAP and Oracle have their own data centres, so data sovereignty is not an issue any more.
Schlosser does not see a demand for edge computing right now as the majority of IT sits inhouse and in the enterprise data centre.
According to research firm Gartner, almost 10% of enterprise-generated data globally is generated and processed outside a traditional centralised data centre. By 2025, this figure is expected to shoot up to 75%.
Manish Ranjan, Program Manager for Software and Cloud at International Data Centre (IDC), said that cloud data centres would remain the essential core and continue to serve as the foundational layer to enable edge computing.
“With that, let’s not deny the fact that edge computing will have an impact which will certainly evolve the role of data centres where we might see the growth of smaller data centre build-outs. These micro data centres would not be built in the remote areas but would move closer to areas where devices (IoT and sensors) and applications can connect with these edge data centres faster to enable the real-time data processing at a much-reduced latency rate,” he said.
However, he said that there is a possibility of the emergence of a number of smaller data centres in countries but this scenario will take time in the region as the market is increasingly embracing the cloud model.
5G will fuel edge computing
According to IDC, public cloud services are seeing a big uptake in the UAE due to the overall business environment and the market is expected to grow by 35% to $406m in 2020 compared to $299m this year.
Schlosser said that the first edge, for them [enterprises], will be the data centre location like ours where they can extend their corporate network to this data centre and meet four or five cloud providers just by cross-connecting and building their first edge node.
“Those enterprises that can value the latency gain between the data centre and where the IT transaction is taking place, and if there is a specific value which they can define, then a need for new edge data centres starts to exist but that is not something that we see it today,” he said.
When people start to use 5G with sustainable business models, he said that is when a new edge computing could become visible.
Ranjan said that organisations are increasingly looking to mine and extract insights in real-time by using big data analytics and business intelligence applications and this would certainly require high computational power, faster data processing capacity and a much robust network infrastructure where 5G would also play a key role.
According to Equinix’s latest Global Interconnection Index (GXI), private connectivity at the edge will grow by 51% compound annual growth rate globally and exceed a total bandwidth capacity of more than 13,300 Tbps, equivalent to 53 zettabytes of data exchanged annually.
“We strongly believe in a hybrid cloud model where people will learn how to assess each bit of data they have and look at how this data is contributing to their business model and what is the value of this data and how is it used by their supply chains. Based on these characteristics, they either deploy it on-premises or in private or public cloud,” Schlosser said.
Within the hybrid model, Ranjan said it would not only be limited to public or private cloud services but would also include edge to benefit from the model.
“Some of the leading IT solution providers have already started keeping the edge as one of the key focus areas and are offering this within their hybrid model,” he said.