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How 5G Will Change Data Centers: Part One

The anticipation of 5G wireless technology has increased every year since the release of 4G. The demand for streaming services, artificial intelligence and other bandwidth-heavy applications has gone up significantly, which is driving demand for faster speeds and less latency—which all point to the data center.

5G technology could bring a possible latency, new technologies such as augmented reality, autonomous driving cars, and the explosion of IoT will benefit from the higher speeds and lower latency of 5G technology.

However, what’s the cost of this improvement in technology? From an end user’s experience, thought is rarely given to the infrastructure and the work that’s done behind the scenes, or on the back-end of their endpoint’s connection to the Internet. From a data center perspective, how will 5G affect the day in and day out operations and planning that go into managing and maintaining a data center?

While the thought of increased speeds, extremely low latency and IoT expansion is exciting, it’s important to take a holistic approach to how 5G technology will impact the data center, and those that support it.

The Data Center Must Evolve to “Many-To-One”

4G technology is geared toward a “one-to-one” methodology. When user’s endpoint device is connected to a tower, it will transition to the next nearest tower as their location changes. This provides the user with the experience they would expect from 4G connections.

5G connectivity will introduce the idea of “many-to-one” methodology as it relates to wireless connectivity. The user’s endpoint device will need to communicate with many towers or antennas at the same time in order to deliver higher speeds and lower latency. This will require more towers and antennas, which will require more data centers.

The construction of an edge data center will put the user’s data much closer and will process it locally to provide the expected 5G high speed/low latency experience. This process circumvents the need for the user’s data to traverse the cloud and back. This will help for use cases like streaming services.

The way in which we build these new data centers and retrofit the old ones will also need to adapt to meet the demands of 5G. For example, the “Three Musketeers” of the data center — power, space and cooling — will need to be revamped. 5G networks could demand up to 100x more resources than the typical 4G network.

Overall, more resources mean more equipment, power and space requirements. In order to meet the specifications of a 5G ready data center, environmental impact needs to be analyzed. The increase in resources and requirements to build and/or retrofit a data center for 5G readiness could have a negative impact on emissions and carbon footprint.

While most data centers do their due diligence in creating an environmentally friendly building, architects today will need to rely heavily on environmental efficiency when building the data center of tomorrow.

Correlata CorreAssess is leading the charge to help businesses create efficient data centers while identifying how to deploy green initiatives. 

Look for Part Two: How 5G Will Change the Data Centers on April 11, 2019

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Ofer Laksman