In part one of our Edge Computing interview with Dominic Romeo, TierPoint Director of Product Management, we discussed the different views of edge computing and how it helps customers address challenges like latency and connection costs. In part two, we talk to Dom about hyperscalers like AWS and Azure and how their offerings play into the edge story.
Are AWS and Azure Part of the Edge Story?
In the last segment of our discussion, you talked about how hyperscalers like AWS and Azure might be a bit ahead of the curve with their on-prem offerings for the IoT. As things stand right now, do you consider them part of the edge story?
Romeo: I think we have to. Networks have gotten better, and applications have gotten better at dealing with latency. Geography is still important, but the overriding concern is which environment is best for a particular workload.
Putting the right workload in the right place requires focusing on things like how the workload runs. Is it better served on an infrastructure that easily scales up and down. For example, it might be a website that needs to scale on a weekly or even daily basis because of user demand driven by advertising.
Or, do you have a database application that is low transaction, but houses a massive amount of data, and you don’t want to host that in your own data center. Those are both good candidate workloads for housing in these hyperscale data centers.
It’s also a lot easier for companies to accelerate their DevOps or internal application development on platforms like AWS and Azure because they have such a wealth of different services and foundational elements that you can bring together to build an application stack way easier than pioneering it yourself on four or five servers in your colocation data center.
But as I mentioned, geography can still be important. AWS and Azure know that they need to have multiple regions for resiliency and redundancy reasons, but also so their customers can have certain types of workloads closer to their end users.
How Do Smaller Providers Fit into the Edge Story?
So, if AWS and Azure have an attractive edge computing story, where does the need for data center operators like TierPoint come in?
Romeo: The hyperscaler edge story isn’t complete because, in some cases, you want to get latency even lower than they can. For example, there are some smaller markets that hyperscalers are just never going to build into. That’s where we [TierPoint] have data centers. Little Rock is one. Omaha is another. We have more than forty data centers in tier two markets like these.
Flexibility is another reason why a customer might choose a data enter operated by someone like TierPoint rather than AWS or Azure. We can offer the full spectrum of options. We can do colocation. So, maybe the customer has their own hardware, but they don’t want to operate their own facility. They can put their boxes in our data center and contract for what we call “rack, power, and pipe” from us. That simply means the space for the equipment, the power to run it – plus all the additional facility requirements such as cooling and connectivity.
This company might also not have the bandwidth to focus on something like backups or disaster recovery. In that case, they’d not only buy the space from us, but also some of our backup services and/or DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) to supplement their IT.
Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there are customers that don’t want to own any hardware. They want us to manage it for them. If they don’t want to share resources with other customers, they buy a private cloud. If they don’t care if it’s shared and they just want the flexibility, they choose a multitenant cloud.
We can work with customers who need edge computing for different reasons, and we can handle their unique needs from colocation all the way up to a full-service, managed private cloud. And, by the way, we can also offer these additional services for your AWS and Azure cloud environments as well.
This level of flexibility seems to be getting less and less common. Maybe it’s because there are more niche providers entering the market, but you don’t often find a cloud provider that offers the full spectrum of deployment options from colo to private, hosted cloud, to public cloud and a full spectrum of services to go with it.
A lot of providers who are specifically pitching edge data centers would never let you bring in your own server. They might be landing a cargo container beneath a cell phone tower, and it’s all predetermined infrastructure. They’d never let you bring in your own server, your own rack, and your own connectivity. They’re offering a very different edge experience than what we can offer.
Learn more about the Edge Computing
In the next installment of our interview with Dominic Romeo, he will talk about some of the challenges faced by organizations looking to migrate workloads closer to the customer. Learn more about Edge Computing with our Strategic Guide to Edge Computing.