UK edge colocation considerations: Taking a closer look at the local geography will pay dividends

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UK edge colocation considerations: Taking a closer look at the local geography will pay dividends

By John Hall, Managing Director at Colocation at Proximity Data Centres

Despite concerns before the UK’s exit from the EU (Brexit) at the end of 2020, the UK remains the largest market in Europe for colocation data centers. According to Synergy Research, demand is being driven by enterprise cloud and software-as-a-service companies but also consumer-driven verticals such as e-commerce, social networking, search, streaming video services, gaming, and mobile apps.

The London/M25 area—the traditional UK colocation destination—is not the only beneficiary. The regional data center market has grown considerably over the past decade thanks to the decreasing costs of fiber communications, the huge increase in internet traffic, and more sophisticated IT monitoring software. This has made it increasingly viable for more enterprises and service providers to choose data centers outside of the London/M25 where rents for rackspace and hosting facilities can be half as much.

Moving forward, UK regional colocation is set for a further boost in supporting demand for edge computing, edge cloud, and telco edge deployments. Mobile operators, hyperscalers, regional cloud providers, CDNs, enterprises, and manufacturers are clearly looking to bring data and services much closer to users and customers to reduce latency and data transit costs.

The key here, like in any other country, is data center location. Increasingly, applications are demanding sub-10 millisecond latency, from mission-critical enterprise applications to driverless cars, augmented reality, gaming, remote surgery, and AI-powered industrial IoT applications.

With these kinds of latency requirements and despite the help of 5G, increased precision is needed by data center operators, mobile operators, regional cloud providers, and enterprise organizations when it comes to potential edge location. Further, as the quality of broadband has increased with many households and small businesses connecting to fiber to the premise and speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second, the congestion or chokepoint has moved to the hyperscale data center. On the network side, consideration also has to be given to the number of hops and where on the network a site will be situated—these factors will impact its suitability to meet specific latency use cases. Access to local internet exchanges and public cloud infrastructure via gateways are further factors.

UK location – buyer beware

For a country the size of the UK, the location of data centers may appear relatively straightforward compared to say, Canada or the US. We are a small landmass and the physical distances involved between regions and large cities are relatively small by comparison. Further, as one of the most crowded major countries in Europe with a high overall population density —725 people per mile compared to just 87 in the US—it would suggest just a handful of data centers will be sufficient to get close enough to the vast majority of the UK’s businesses and consumers.

However, the devil is in the detail. Outside of the London metro area, easily the most densely populated area with around 9.4 million people, there are still some 57 million citizens to reach. Unlike in London, these are dispersed unevenly throughout the UK. Sure, conurbation areas around Birmingham in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester in the North West are sizeable with around 2.5 million people apiece. But what about the South West and Eastern coastal areas, or Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales? They may all have lower population densities than is typical of the UK but there are certain sizeable anomalies in cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, and Cardiff as well as their respective surrounding areas. Furthermore, the working population has grown to be more productive working from home due to the pandemic. People are moving out of expensive cities to work in semi-rural areas which in turn puts more pressure on backhauling traffic to the few hyperscale data centers in the UK.

The above example simply illustrates that with growing demands for reduced latency, network bandwidth congestion, and backhaul costs, much more strategically positioned regional colocation facilities will become pivotal in the success of UK edge deployments. Time taken to research and understand the UK’s local geography and customer demographics before committing to existing data center facilities will ultimately pay off in terms of operational efficiencies, agility, and cost reductions. Customers must be able to rapidly provision and scale compute and storage resources exactly where they’re needed—but without risk of compromising IT security and resilience.

About the author

John Hall is Managing Director, Colocation at Proximity Data Centres, which operates a rapidly growing trusted network of regional carrier-neutral edge data centers across the UK. Hall has more than two decades of experience managing sales, marketing, and commercial functions in the data center, IT outsourcing, and telecoms industry. Previous roles included Customer Director for Global Markets at Cable & Wireless and as Group Sales & Marketing Director of a venture capital-funded hosting and IT outsourcing company.

DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this blog are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review (

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