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The Data Centers Continuum

June 2019 by Olivier LABBE, Directeur Général Adjoint de Cap Ingelec & Co-fondateur de Cap DC

Requirements in Data Center areas are globally growing at around 15 to 20 percent a year, in direct correlation with the increase of IT activity.

In the 2010s, the visionary trend massively positioned these areas inside Hyperscale Data Centers, which would ideally be located near the polar circle to optimize energy performance. At that time, which had just been paralyzed by the eruption of the famous Icelandic volcano Eyjafjöll, only the question of systemic risks seemed to slow this evolution.

Today’s reality is no longer the same. To this vision of hyper-concentration of areas has come to replace a model of continuum, which we can summarize in 6 levels.

• Hyperscale Data Centers, which of course retain all their appeal for mass storage and non-transactional processing. Their goal will not be to be close to the user, but to bring the best cost of production, positioning a large area mutualization where land and energy are cheap.

• The Hub Data Centers, massively positioned in Europe on FLAP (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris). These areas have large Data Centers that benefit from rapid interconnection between each other. Thus, "the Data Centers call the Data Centers", these areas over-attract the operators because the interconnection takes precedence over the potential of the local market. Once this mapping is established, it is very difficult for other cities to position themselves in this niche.

• The Regional Data Centers, in all other significant cities, which this time address the local economic potential, with Cloud players or hosts who act as the first level of access vs the Hubs.

• The "5G" Data Centers, which will be positioned closer to urban areas to meet the need for latency required by the uses of populations

• The Micro-Data Centers, which will bring low latency during a major concentration of use (a stadium, a factory). For example, the experience of a replay video of a sports action for a supporter in the stands can be operated by a local streaming.

• The pico-data centers, which will address the use of the particular, bringing a minimum latency and especially a management of private data. For example, the processing of home automation applications via the Q-Rads from Qarnot Computing (which uses computer heat as a radiator in the apartments) will prevent this private data processing (closing the light, leaving the apartment, etc.). ) to be exported to the cloud.

The last three levels are part of the Edge universe. They aim to position the Data Center space as closely as possible. The arrival of the 5G (which will divide the "air" connection time by 20) will further accelerate this need to reduce the cost of transport to the Data Center. According to IDC, in 2025, 30% of data processing will be delivered on site.

A new generation of Data Centers for Edge.

The first three levels of Data Centers follow, with different sizes, the same principles of design. We could just argue that as Hyperscale Data Centers are often single-user, they have the opportunity to choose more restrictive design options than colocation providers (which cannot by definition anticipate the requirements of their future customers). For instance some OCP’s recommendations, such as liquid cooling or non-central electrical backups, can thus be implemented.

The last three levels of Data Centers respond to different principles. For micro and pico-data centers, the installation is industrial, the "data center shell" is sold with computer hardware. The main issues will be related to physical protection or maintenance / operation of these infrastructures.

The category of "5G" Data Centers brings a new deal. They look like (small) Data Centers but must be implemented in complex environments. Positioned in urban areas, they are subject to numerous safety and compliance constraints.

But the greatest complexity lies in the lack of space.

To deploy its "5G" Data Center, the operator only find small spaces (basement of a building, small plot, etc.), which does not allow any freedom in technical equipment.
Sometimes the installation of a generator is just impossible, which forces to use huge battery capacities..
The notion of rectangular area must often be forgotten.
Cap Ingelec, the French specialist in Data Center design and build, has developed a strong know-how to facilitate the implementation of this new type of infrastructure with agility.

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