Edge Data Center Providers and Go-to-Market Strategy (GTM) for Growth
Are you part of an edge data center provider or operator?
Do you work on a go-to-market team that needs a better GTM strategy to achieve your company’s growth goals? Across all relevant areas -- including sales, marketing, customer success, product, channel partnerships, and executive leadership?
With the growing popularity of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), hybrid cloud services, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and software as a service (SaaS), the need to securely store this information is also rising.
However, efficiently and effectively reaching their target market has often been a go-to-market challenge for edge data centers.
Edge data center providers specialize in establishing and managing data centers at the network's edge, closer to where data is generated and consumed. These data centers are strategically positioned near end-users, devices, and IoT endpoints, aiming to reduce latency and enhance the performance of applications and services. Unlike traditional centralized data centers, which are typically located in large, centralized facilities, edge data centers are distributed across various geographical locations to bring data processing and storage closer to the point of use.
One of the critical advantages of edge data center providers is their ability to support low-latency, high-bandwidth applications such as real-time streaming, online gaming, and autonomous vehicles. By minimizing the distance data needs to travel, edge providers can significantly reduce the delays or lag experienced by users, ensuring a seamless and responsive experience.
Edge data centers are essential for emerging technologies, as they provide the infrastructure needed to support the vast amount of data generated and processed at the edge, enabling faster and more reliable connectivity.
Edge data center providers also play a vital role in enabling edge computing, where data processing occurs locally on edge devices or within close proximity rather than relying solely on centralized cloud resources. This approach enhances security, scalability, and the ability to handle real-time data analysis, making it indispensable for industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and smart cities. Overall, edge data center providers are pivotal in shaping the future of digital infrastructure, optimizing data delivery, and facilitating the growth of innovative applications and services at the network's edge.
Comparing Edge vs. Colocation Data Centers
Edge and colocation data center providers are two distinct types of companies in the data center industry, each offering unique services and catering to different business needs.
Edge data center providers specialize in establishing and managing data centers at the network's edge, close to end-users and IoT devices. Edge providers focus on reducing latency and improving the performance of applications and services by decentralizing data processing and storage.
In contrast, colocation data center providers operate centralized facilities where multiple organizations can rent space, power, and cooling resources to house their own servers and IT equipment. Colocation providers offer economies of scale, security, and reliability in a shared environment, allowing businesses to control their hardware while outsourcing data center management tasks.
Edge data center providers are essential for applications requiring ultra-low latency and high bandwidth, such as autonomous vehicles and real-time streaming. Edge providers support the unique demands of edge computing and are strategically located to address specific geographical needs.
On the other hand, colocation data center providers are suitable for businesses seeking cost-effective and scalable infrastructure solutions. Colocation facilities offer redundancy, security, and robust connectivity options, making them a practical choice for many enterprises.
While edge data center providers excel in reducing latency and supporting emerging technologies, colocation data center providers offer versatile and cost-effective solutions for organizations looking to house their IT equipment in a secure and well-managed environment. The choice between the two largely depends on a company's specific requirements, budget, and strategic goals in the ever-evolving landscape of data center services.
Who Needs Edge Data Centers?
Edge data centers are crucial for a wide range of industries and applications that require low latency, high performance, and real-time data processing at the edge of the network.
- Telecommunications and 5G: Telecommunication companies rely on edge data centers to support the rollout of 5G networks. These data centers enable the rapid processing of data and reduce latency, ensuring seamless connectivity for applications like autonomous vehicles, remote surgery, and augmented reality, all of which demand minimal delays to function effectively.
- IoT and Smart Cities: The Internet of Things ecosystem depends on edge data centers to manage the massive volume of data generated by sensors and devices. Edge computing allows for local data processing, reducing the strain on central data centers and improving responsiveness for applications like smart traffic management, environmental monitoring, and predictive maintenance in smart cities.
- Content Delivery and Streaming: Content providers, streaming services, and online gaming companies utilize edge data centers to deliver high-quality, low-latency content to users. By distributing content closer to end-users, these providers can minimize buffering, reduce load times, and enhance the overall user experience.
Any industry or application that relies on real-time data processing, minimal latency, and improved performance benefits from edge data centers. They are pivotal in advancing technologies like 5G, IoT, and content delivery, enabling innovative solutions across various sectors.
Where Edge Data Centers Are Located
Edge data centers are located near where data is generated and consumed, often at the "edge" of the network infrastructure. These locations are chosen to minimize latency and improve the performance of applications and services. Here are three common types of locations where edge data centers are situated:
- Urban Areas: Many edge data centers are positioned in urban environments with high population density and a significant concentration of IoT devices and end-users. Placing data centers in cities helps reduce the distance data needs to travel, ensuring low-latency access to applications for residents and businesses. Urban edge data centers are essential for smart city initiatives, supporting applications like real-time traffic management and public safety systems.
- Remote or Rural Locations: In some cases, edge data centers are established in remote or rural areas, especially in regions with limited reliable connectivity to centralized data centers. These remote edge data centers serve industries like agriculture and mining, providing critical data processing capabilities for precision farming and autonomous machinery applications.
- Telecommunication Towers: To support 5G networks and mobile edge computing, edge data centers are often colocated with telecommunication infrastructure, such as cell towers and base stations. These data centers enable real-time data processing for emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles and augmented reality applications, as they are strategically positioned to reduce latency for mobile device users.
Edge data centers can be found in various locations, including urban areas, remote regions, and near telecommunication infrastructure. Their placement is driven by the need to enhance performance and reduce latency for specific applications and industries, ultimately improving the user experience and enabling the adoption of advanced technologies.
What Enterprises Are Looking for When Choosing the Right Edge Data Center Provider
When selecting the right edge data center provider, enterprises consider several critical factors to ensure they align with their business needs and objectives.
- Proximity to End-Users: Enterprises look for edge data center providers with strategically positioned facilities close to their target audience or operational locations. Proximity reduces latency and ensures low-latency access to applications and services, which is especially crucial for industries like online gaming, video streaming, and IoT deployments.
- Reliability and Redundancy: Reliability is paramount. Enterprises seek providers offering robust power, network redundancy, and backup systems to guarantee uninterrupted operations. High availability is essential, as downtime can lead to significant revenue losses and damage to reputation.
- Security and Compliance: Data security is a top concern. Businesses demand edge data centers with robust physical and cybersecurity measures, including access controls, surveillance, and compliance certifications (e.g., SOC 2, ISO 27001). Compliance with industry-specific regulations, such as HIPAA for healthcare or GDPR for data privacy, is also critical.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Enterprises look for providers that can accommodate their current needs and scale with them as they grow. The ability to quickly expand infrastructure resources is vital, as it ensures that businesses can adapt to changing demands and market conditions effectively.
- Cost-Efficiency: Cost considerations are essential. Enterprises evaluate pricing models, including upfront costs and ongoing operational expenses. They seek providers that offer transparent pricing, competitive rates, and options for cost optimization through resource allocation and management.
- Support and Service Level Agreements (SLAs): Enterprises require responsive customer support and well-defined SLAs. This focus ensures that any issues or downtime are swiftly addressed, minimizing disruptions to their operations. SLAs detailing uptime guarantees and response times are critical aspects of the evaluation process.
- Edge Computing Capabilities: If enterprises are leveraging edge computing, they look for providers that can support their specific requirements, such as edge analytics, AI processing, or real-time data processing. Edge data centers must have the infrastructure and expertise to enable these advanced capabilities.
Ultimately, choosing an edge data center provider depends on a combination of these factors, tailored to each enterprise's unique needs and priorities. By carefully assessing these considerations, businesses can effectively make informed decisions that support their digital infrastructure and growth objectives.
Why Edge Data Center Providers Need to Modernize Their Product Offerings and Go-to-Market Game Plan (Disrupt or Be Disrupted)
Edge data center providers are at a critical juncture where they must modernize their product offerings and go-to-market strategies or face the risk of being disrupted in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Several compelling reasons underscore the urgency of this transformation:
- Escalating Demand for Low-Latency Services: As the demand for low-latency applications and services grows, edge data centers must adapt to deliver on these expectations. Modernizing involves optimizing infrastructure and network capabilities to cater to real-time needs. Failure to do so can lead to customer churn as enterprises seek providers that can provide the low-latency experiences required for applications like autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and IoT.
- Competition from Hyperscale Cloud Providers: Traditional edge data center providers face stiff competition from hyperscale cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. These cloud giants are expanding their reach into edge computing and have the resources to scale and adapt their services quickly. Edge data centers must modernize to effectively compete by offering specialized services, cost-efficiency, and customized solutions tailored to local markets.
- Rising Expectations for Scalability and Flexibility: Enterprises require scalable, flexible infrastructure solutions to meet their evolving needs. Modernizing involves offering solutions that enable easy scalability, resource allocation, and management. To remain competitive, edge data centers must evolve to provide cloud-like capabilities, such as on-demand provisioning and pay-as-you-go pricing.
- Edge Computing Complexity: As edge computing continues to gain prominence, edge data centers must navigate the complexities of supporting diverse workloads, from AI and machine learning to real-time analytics. They need to modernize by investing in cutting-edge technologies and expertise to effectively support these advanced use cases.
According to recent research by Gartner, 83% of business-to-business (B2B) purchase decisions happen before a potential buyer even talks to a seller. This process includes doing research, comparing options, and figuring out pricing.
Another study from McKinsey & Company found that between 70% and 80% of B2B decision-makers now prefer to make decisions using digital means, like websites and online resources.
In its B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report, LinkedIn and Edelman concluded that although thought leadership is still crucial for engaging customers, it's become challenging to stand out amid all the noise.
Have you ever been told to watch out for the six most dangerous words?
"We've always done it this way."
That mindset served the taxi industry poorly when Uber and Lyft came along. Blockbuster Video didn't fare well against Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming giants. And remember when Motorola and BlackBerry dominated the mobile market? They fell behind when smartphones took over.
And what about Microsoft? They didn't do so hot when they timidly entered the mobile device space while trying to protect their desktop OS franchise.
So, here's a critical question for edge data center providers:
Are you ready to be the disruptor rather than getting disrupted? And should you rethink your strategy for growth before it's too late?
To avoid being left behind, consider two undeniable realities:
- Your ideal clients only want to spend time with your sales team once they're far along in their decision-making journey. According to Gartner, that point is at 83%. Prospects actively now avoid speaking with sales reps during most of their research.
- Closing a sale isn't the endgame; it's just the start. In a world where customer happiness, retention, and growth are crucial, selling to the wrong clients can stall your company’s growth. To succeed, you need everyone on your go-to-market team—sales, marketing, customer success, product, channel partnerships, and leadership—to be on the same page with account retention and expansion.
Because technology is changing quickly, and customers want new ways of purchasing, edge data centers need to update themselves and how they sell their services. If they do this, they can become flexible and focused on customers, providing the fast, adjustable, and unique solutions businesses need today.
Conversely, those who resist change may struggle to compete with more adaptable players in the dynamic landscape of edge computing. A "disrupt or be disrupted" mentality is essential to thrive in this environment.
About the Data Center Sales & Marketing Institute (DCSMI) and How It Empowers Go-to-Market Teams at Edge Data Center Providers
If you’re part of a go-to-market team for an edge data center provider, you play a pivotal role in the success of your edge-related business.
You and your colleagues ensure that products and services meet customer needs, get effectively promoted, and generate revenue in a competitive market.
Your team uses a combination of market research, strategic planning, collaboration, and customer-centricity to achieve its goals.
The Data Center Sales & Marketing Institute (DCSMI) is a boutique business advisory, consulting, and training firm for data center providers as well as IT, facilities, and sales and marketing companies that partner with data center providers.
DCSMI understands the unique go-to-market challenges and opportunities that edge data center GTM teams face in this rapidly evolving data center marketplace, and we're here to help you excel.
Welcome to DCSMI, your strategic partner in navigating the complex world of data center go-to-market strategy and the role of GTM teams.