The Drivers and Trends That Are Moving Data Centres Towards "The Edge"

Morrison Hershfield, IBM and WZMH hosted GTA data centre professionals at the Toronto Board of Trade on May 11th to discuss “The Edge”.

Phill Lawson-Shanks, keynote speaker from EdgeConneX, presented remarkable insight into changes in internet usage patterns, technologies connecting users to the internet and emerging needs for improved data centre infrastructure to support these changes.

Interesting Facts from Phill’s Presentation:Phill Presenting - Data Center Event-1.jpg

  • We are living in exponential times. Computing power is growing more each hour than in the past 90 years.
  • User needs have changed and the way we access the internet has followed suit. From computers, to cellular data, to nodes on cars, consumer needs for connectivity to the internet is rapidly evolving. The internet of everything involves the internet of everywhere.
  • Platform shifts have changed the way we interact with technology. In Q4 of 2012, tablets began to outsell PCs.
  • The number of users connected to the internet has grown from 800k in 2010, to 1.8B this year, and conservative estimates suggest 5B users in 2020 with at least 25B connected devices.
  • Cloud computing and "programming techniques" have enabled a new form of product abstraction, accelerated prototyping, simultaneous multi-platform development, construction and instant delivery to an expanding consumer base.
  • In 2014, AT&T's market capitalization was about the same as it was in 2006, while Google's value has more than doubled in that time. Facebook didn't even exist in 2006, and by 2014 it was worth roughly 40 percent more than AT&T (approximately $222 billion). By 2020, it is likely that one or more major telco companies will be acquired by a content company.
  • “By 2020, more than three-quarters of the S&P 500 will be companies that we have not heard of yet. The average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 has decreased: In the 1920 it was 67 years – today it is 15 years.” - Richard Foster, Yale University
  • The internet was originally built as a platform to send email, internet traffic has certainly undergone some changes since: now, video accounts for more than 70% of peak traffic, with cloud & streaming growing daily.
  • Millennials will surpass boomers this year as the nation’s largest living generation.
  • In 2018, Kansas City will consume as much data as Los Angeles did in 2013
  • The Internet of Things Needs “The Edge” - “The internet must be everywhere; but it must also be constructed and maintained within a commercial business framework that is open and predictable that supports innovation and expansion of platforms and services at the new edge of the internet,” concludes Phill Lawson-Shanks.

 View the full presentation. 

The Panel

Following the presentation, a panel of experts provided perspective on Edge data centre drivers and trends here in Canada.

The panel consisted of Bernie Oegema of IBM, Zenon Radewych of WZMH and Phill Lawson-Shanks of EdgeConneX. The panel was moderated by Sean Smith of Morrison Hershfield.Panel - Data Center Event-1.jpg

Key Characteristics of The Edge in the Greater Toronto Area as Observed by the Panel of Experts

  • “We are seeing a change in the marketplace where projects are referred by relationships based on past performance for speed to market.” - Zenon Radewych, WZMH
  • “Customers are increasingly building in predefined, repeatable modules. It’s a new breed of customer with new needs, requiring greater speed to production. We build to requirements rather than to detailed specification” - Bernie Oegema, IBM.
  • “Many of our clients are shifting to smaller retrofit projects in Toronto’s downtown core. There is a demand to be in dense urban environments. This is a reverse from a trend we saw 15 years ago where many of our data centre clients were moving away from the downtown core to areas outside of the City.” –Zenon Radewych, WZMH
  • “Canada is lagging behind the US but we are seeing a trend of our clients moving compute capacity towards secondary markets outside of the main cities, such as Hamilton.” –Bernie Oegema, IBM
  • “In Toronto, older buildings present opportunities for new uses – such as the smaller data centre hubs or what the industry refers to as ‘on-ramps’" –Zenon Radewych, WZMH
  • “There is 8 million square feet of data centre space in Toronto. Data Centres on the Edge are close to end users.” –Phill Lawson-Shanks
  • ”Phill’s presentation was crystal clear; a new set of customer needs has emerged, which presents a huge opportunity for the people in this room to leverage their expertise to service these new needs.” –Sean Smith, Morrison Hershfield

Contact the Panel Members

Have edge data centre questions for our panelist and presenters? Please contact:

Sean Smith - Morrison HershfieldGroup Shot -Data Center Event-1.jpg
Bernie Oegema - IBM

Zenon Radewych - WZMH
Phill Lawson-Shanks - EdgeConneX




Morrison Hershfield is a market leading, employee-owned professional engineering and management firm that has been making a difference since 1946. We deliver technically sophisticated, cost effective and sustainable infrastructure solutions across the globe.

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