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Information overload: why the pandemic is driving the demand for data

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The rise in digital services has put a big demand on content providers. This looks only set to become even greater during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There has been urgent, sweeping change across the UK, with many of us embarking on the longest sustained period at home since the second world war. However, in these uncertain times there is one constant: data. Even without social distancing in place, the last decade has shown us the growth in data will only continue as services become more advanced.

Users now rely on technology and data sharing services to stay entertained and keep in touch with their loved ones. From video calls and online gaming to streaming services, like Netflix or the recently launched Disney+, there is a wide range of services available that need data to share content effectively.

What’s more, many organisations have been obliged to make a big transition in how they operate, with nearly all staff now working from home and relying on domestic broadband to complete professional tasks.

There is always pressure on content providers to maintain their offerings under normal circumstances, but during this current crisis, the stakes have never been higher. With the demand for data only set to grow, it is adding more strain than ever on businesses to deliver fast reliable services to end users.

Here, we explore why colocation services via edge data centres can offer the perfect solution to cope with the demand - both now and when life returns to normal.

Conquering familiar hurdles

The world may well be changing, but for content and software providers, the challenges remain the same. Data, content and services still need to be rolled out to millions of users across the country, with customers demanding a seamless experience rather than being held back by latency.

The major difference facing businesses now is the scale at which they need to supply their offerings. More of us are working and spending leisure time at home, and businesses are preparing accordingly to a ‘new normal’ when the peak of the coronavirus pandemic passes. For instance, Gartner has established that 74% of enterprises plan to shift to more remote-work post-COVID-19.

That is why service and content providers need to plan now to ensure they are prepared to deliver an increase in offerings to the people that want them well beyond this summer, and into 2021.

Expanding capacity

Data storage, production and processing requirements are growing at an exceptional rate. It all needs to be stored somewhere. In fact, amount of digital data stored globally is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 61% by 2025, and businesses that rely on it are realising the great opportunities information can bring. By offering more digital services, companies can gain and retain more customers.

But of course, this data needs to be stored effectively and businesses need to manage their capacity accordingly. And this is big business, with organisations prioritising investment in order to sustain success. What’s more, global data centre spending reached more than £125 billion in 2019.

Yet for all this spending and these plans to expand capacity to meet customer needs, making it a reality can sometimes prove a challenge. Even some of the world’s leading providers can feel the pressure. For instance, Microsoft admitted in early April that its Azure solution was facing data centre capacity shortages in Europe.

What’s more, while the coronavirus-enforced social distancing measures may be temporary, it is fair to say that a surge in data usage has long been expected - regardless of the circumstances we currently find ourselves in. This surge has been widely predicted to peak over the next few months and broadband providers are playing their part by lifting usage caps for consumers.

With this is mind, businesses can leverage edge data centres to scale the amount of data they deal with on a daily basis, to keep people reliably connected. Video conferencing tool Zoom has recently announced its customers will be able to choose where their meeting data is stored, which is a good example of how data can be effectively secured and managed regionally rather than globally.

While traditional data centres will still have their place, edge data centres allow businesses to expand data capacity and house data locally, for nearby customers and other users.

Location, location, location

It is true that the internet has broadened our horizons and opened up opportunities to connect with the rest of the world, but this cannot happen without locally-based data storage solutions. Regional, edge colocation data centres enable content to be located in close proximity to the user. Whether it be business or consumer applications, increasingly low latency is critical.

Cautious predictions of what will happen after the coronavirus pandemic starts to calm down say that life will not immediately go back to what it once was. The return to normality will be staggered, with millions of us still spending the majority of our free time and working hours at home.

By working with internet edge colocation providers, content delivery networks (CDNs) can go a long way in their bid to overcome any concerns around latency. Regional internet edge colocation facilities offer a reliable hosting infrastructure that is both resilient and fast. This allows service providers to avoid data congestion and delays and instead start saving time, money and resources.

Businesses and their customers both have understandable concerns during these more troubling times but, as the UK becomes more reliant on digital service than ever before, the delivery of data does not need to be one of them.

John Hall is Managing Director at Proximity Data Centres