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5G: How should data centre operators be preparing?

The imminent rollout of 5G and the significant increase in data that will need to be processed, stored and distributed is likely to have a significant impact on the data centre sector. So, what should data centre operators be doing to prepare? Clive Partridge, Rittal’s technical manager, IT Infrastructure gives us his insight.

The 5G mobile communications network is shortly going to be rolled out and it is expected to revolutionise the mobile experience for us all by matching and surpassing the wireless network currently on offer. 

5G combines faster upload speeds and increased mobile capacity with considerably lower latency, reducing page loading times to a just one millisecond. 

5G will also help support the expansion of IoT-enabled devices, facilitating the use of wireless sensors in the home, and in factories and warehouses. 

It will direct industrial robots and enable machine-to-machine communication, not to mention autonomous vehicles, even if these are still on the horizon.

Coverage won’t be universal to begin with. The roll-out will probably start in main conurbations, followed by rural areas. 

But data centre operators still need to be prepared for what’s likely to be a tidal wave of data that will now be processed/stored in the cloud. 

Added to which, data centres also have to support the low latency delivered by 5G to maximise the potential of this very agile service and provide users with instant access to a constant data stream. 

Some of these pressures can be eased by decentralising IT infrastructure through the expansion of local edge data centres.

The advance of edge computing, which essentially provides computing resources at the perimeter of a given network, allows data to be processed at source, taking advantage of low latency while supporting the real-time applications required to run systems.   

Edge data centres remain connected to the cloud, however, and it is cloud which then takes care of any less time-dependent data analyses. 

Not surprisingly, many data centre owners have already anticipated the arrival of 5G. 

Those that haven’t may need hardware refreshes or upgrades to deliver the low latency and bandwidth needed for both 5G and edge computing processing within the cloud. 

It’s worth noting that the general trend towards standardisation is helpful in this regard, and should help deliver both the fast deployment time and scalability which the market is now demanding from data centres.

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