IoT surge will require a data centre hub in every town

24 Jan 2019

Image: © gabe9000c/

Rise in smart devices will place an immense burden on the internet as we know it.

Almost two-thirds (60pc) of Irish IT decision-makers believe data centre hubs will need to be installed in every town due to the rising number of internet of things (IoT) devices.

That’s according to a new survey by global data centre giant Equinix, which owns and runs substantial data centre facilities in Ireland.

‘Our digital economy is growing and Ireland has positioned itself as a top place in Europe to do digital business’

Almost half of Ireland’s IT leaders (47pc) believe that the rising number of IoT devices, from smart speakers and home automation technology to robots and more, will put the greatest burden on the internet in the next three years.

More undersea cables to keep up with data traffic

Man in grey jacket stands in data centre hall under blue light.

Maurice Mortell, Equinix. Image: John T Ohle

To handle the rise in data traffic, Ireland’s IT decision-makers believe undersea cables are essential. While the undersea cable network connecting Ireland to the US and Europe continues to expand, 40pc of those surveyed by Equinix believe it won’t be enough to cope with the surge in volume of data traffic in the next three years. A further 38pc say there won’t be enough data centres in the same timeframe.

IT leaders believe that the data traffic will become so vast, the public internet will crash. “Irish businesses are preparing for a data storm in the coming years and they require the infrastructure and tools to cope with this and benefit from it,” said Maurice Mortell, managing director for Ireland and emerging markets at Equinix.

“Data is a high-value commodity today and, when used correctly, it can transform businesses.”

According to Mortell, more and more Irish enterprises are avoiding the public internet and are instead choosing direct physical and virtual interconnections to allow for fast and secure connectivity.

Equinix’s second annual Global Interconnection Index found that this worldwide trend means the growth of private connectivity between businesses will be 10 times the growth in volume of internet traffic in the next three years.

“Our digital economy is growing and Ireland has positioned itself as a top place in Europe to do digital business. At Equinix, we encourage continued investment in Ireland’s digital infrastructure and are working hard to ensure we are helping Irish enterprises digitally transform, scale quickly and enter new markets through interconnection.”

Data centre hubs not such a crazy idea, actually

The notion of a data centre at the edge of every Irish town might sound crazy when you consider the sheer scale of these monster facilities and the amount of electricity they consume. But there is some merit in the argument for smaller hubs that mimic what data centres do.

As well as IoT devices, pressure on infrastructure will come from the greater dependence on cloud for business; streaming media for entertainment; the onset of 5G networks, which will require dense clusters of antennas; and, crucially, the emergence of edge computing, which quintessentially consists of mini data centres or boxes that mimic the workload of larger ones to deliver greater compute capability to the edge of the network.

If you thought you were tired of hearing about cloud computing, that revolution is only really finding its feet. It will be the next trillion-dollar industry.

But get ready to hear a lot more about edge computing.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years