Adding Servers to Fast-Growing Markets: How Content Providers Can Get Content Closer to the Edge

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OPINION – Major shifts in the U.S. population are having an impact on IT strategies, especially for those responsible for moving and managing large amounts of content. Families are moving out of large cities and into smaller outer-ring communities, and metro areas like Seattle, Dallas and Minneapolis are among the fastest growing in the country. As people move, with them go their content needs.  

Author: Graham Williams, chief commercial officer, Cologix

These developments have a major impact on IT-location strategies. More specifically, content and cloud providers need to deliver high-quality content and service to these moving populations, without taking on the high costs of getting their content to the last mile. By getting closer to the edge of the Internet and to customers’ new homes, providers can reduce colocation expenses, optimize their network costs, and improve latency for customers. One of the easiest ways to get closer to that edge is by adding servers in neutral colocation facilities in these fast-growing smaller markets.

Deliver the most popular content faster

Colocation in these markets – cities like Minneapolis, Dallas and Seattle – offers a number of benefits to content and cloud providers. For instance, companies of all sizes can take advantage of caching technology that was formerly the domain of a handful of content delivery networks and use that technology to store their most popular content closest to the end user. This drives down the costs and latency when delivering the most frequently accessed content.

Exchange for the farthest reach

Colocating in tier-two markets also can help companies optimize their service and reach. Content providers accessing smaller networks usually have to pay a third party for transit, but by connecting to Internet exchanges, content providers can pass traffic directly through smaller networks and avoid the additional fee. Delivering content through direct exchanges also can improve performance and reduce congestion.

For example, Minnesota has a large number of independent Internet service providers (ISPs), and content providers can only access portions of the upper Midwest population through those ISPs. The ISPs aren’t big enough to garner direct peering relationships, so many of them formed the Midwest Internet Cooperative Exchange (MICE), an Internet peering exchange. By colocating in Minneapolis, content providers can connect to MICE and pass through traffic to customers throughout the region at minimal expense. Many companies have already seen the benefits of connecting to MICE – the traffic that has passed through MICE in the last 18 months has grown close to 10 times its original rate.

Avoid latency and congestion

Companies distributing servers to the edge are also improving the performance of their content or applications. When content has to travel farther from a tier-one market to customers in smaller cities, the delivery time increases, content quality decreases, and customer satisfaction is at risk. Exponential growth in high-bandwidth content has also created network congestion in a number of traditional tier-one markets, which is only exacerbating the performance gaps.

Overall, content providers can reduce costs and improve performance by distributing their servers from locations like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to tier two markets like Minneapolis, Denver or Seattle. Cologix has seen customers save between 15 and 25 percent of their monthly colocation bill in making that move, while saving 50 percent or more on the bandwidth required to deliver the content itself. As populations shift and the Internet moves closer to the edge, the benefits of making that move continue to grow.

Continued shifts in the U.S. population, exponential increases in high-bandwidth content, and a more discerning consumer all combine to put pressure on content providers that have put all of their infrastructure investments into tier-one markets. Sophisticated companies are already colocating servers in tier-two markets that make up the new edge of the Internet. Providers can continue to meet the growing needs of their customers while still managing their costs and maintaining a competitive service advantage.

About Cologix, Graham Williams

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Graham Williams, chief commercial officer, Cologix

Colocation and connectivity provider Cologix  operates carrier neutral data centers in Columbus, Dallas, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Graham Williams is the chief commercial officer for Cologix. He has over 10 years of experience in the communications, Internet, content delivery and video industry.