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American Tower Closes DataSite Acquisition

American Tower has closed its acquisition of DataSite, an owner-operator of data centers, adding two data center locations to its growing portfolio of collocation facilities, according to a company statement.

As part of the acquisition, American Tower now maintains responsibility for all management and operations of DataSite’s facilities in Atlanta and in Orlando, Florida. The acquisition brings the total number of American Tower Data Centers to nine, including its entrance into Orlando and extending its current presence in Atlanta.

“The acquisition of DataSite augments our Data Center portfolio,” said Eric Watko, vice president of product line management for American Tower. “Since entering the data center market in 2019, we’ve been committed to meeting the growing demands of our customers by expanding critical connectivity services. These Metro Data Centers are critical to our edge strategy, as they contain the carrier hotel, providing interconnectivity access to internet exchanges and cloud services.”

The DataSite Data Center in Orlando is strategically located to complement the American Tower Edge Data Center in Jacksonville, Florida, opening additional connectivity avenues in Florida, according to a prepared statement. Orlando also offers a vehicle for customers to conveniently connect to facilities in Miami that touch networks across Latin America. The DataSite Data Center in Atlanta, located in Marietta, Georgia, provides an additional location for enterprise customers to extend their network with more connectivity options.

American Tower said that its customers would be provided access to services across the DataSite network, including its dedicated internet access, carrier-neutral cross-connects, cloud ramps and point-to-point data center connectivity and cloud options, including WAN and SD-WAN options.

“DataSite is in good hands with American Tower,” said Jeff Burges, the former president of DataSite. “They have shown a commitment to expanding in this industry and providing our customers the same level of service, with the same team they’ve come to expect.”

 

Eyes on Data Centers: How a Tower Company Sees ROI Opportunity

By Don Bishop

The American Tower data center business includes six edge data centers strategically located at the network’s edge in an effort to achieve data efficiency and optimization with network architecture and compute power. The edge data centers use ground space at macro tower locations in Broomfield and Denver, Colorado; Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Atlanta; and Pittsburgh.  The company owns a large collocation data center in Atlanta called Metro Data Center (formerly Colo Atl).

Ed Knapp (left), chief technology officer at American Tower, and Spencer Kurn, an analyst at New Street Research.

According to Ed Knapp, chief technology officer at American Tower, “more data centers are in the pipeline with partners.” He said the company has been talking about providing data center facilities for a number of years. Knapp spoke during an AGL Virtual Summit in June at the session, “Increasing ROI at the Tower,” moderated by Spencer Kurn, an analyst who leads coverage of U.S. towers for New Street Research.

Knapp explained that a micro edge center, placed the base of a tower, occupies about 10 standard racks. “We’ve talked about what the economics per rack is and how many of those you can ultimately see in the long run,” he said. “However, those were initially experimental where we went out and looked at properties that fit the needs of owned land and in the right space, and the right connectivity and an operator environment there. Then, we went ahead and built those.”

American Tower’s Metro Data Center in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of American Tower

In the past few months, Knapp said, the company has added power capacity to the Metro Data Center, tripling the power in the downtown Atlanta facility. He said many interconnection points of fiber providers in the Southeast connect there. He said that facility gave American Tower a good perspective of the far edge along with the metro edge that feeds northbound into the hyperscalers and mobile network operators (MNOs).

“The way you have to think about the market is today, there’s an opportunity for distributed compute,” Knapp said. “Can you provide power, and can you provide space on a pro rata basis for colo that’s proximate? Although there’s demand for that for certain enterprises, that’s the first step.”

The second step involves the telco cloud, Knapp said. He explains that what happens is that operators try to invest in computing functions that handle the radio and access network and the core network functions as they move progressively to the edge. “Think of those as the U’s and C’s in the classic 5G set,” he said. “That’s the second wave.”

The third wave, Knapp said, comes once 5G is built out widely, with the need to fill in applications in the mobile edge compute — the net function.

“That’s how it will move from where it is today,” he said. “It’s super-regional level with wavelength and with what Verizon and others have deployed. As that has to progress further to the edge to get from the latencies today that are on the order of tens of milliseconds down to the sub-10-millisecond or even sub-5-millisecond latency.”

American Tower’s edge data center in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo courtesy of American Tower

Bringing the discussion to the topic of return on investment (ROI), Knapp said that thinking about the new data center technology is one thing, but also it is important to think about workflows and how to integrate the new processes associated with data centers.

“We have things like these subscriber identification modules (SIMs),” he said. “You’re managing this data center, and you now have different assets you have to take care of. You have different internet of things (IoT) and sensors that you need to feed to —or not. These are all things that need to be tied together, and the data center needs to be tied back to the other departments. For example, the finance department wants to know what’s the lifecycle of the asset, and all that comes back to ROI. We’re trying to hit double-digit ROI C’s, and we need to get the lease up in those new assets, but they have different sets of customers, different timelines and different requirements.”

American Tower has a large, suburban, rural tower portfolio in the United States, Knapp said, and the company continues to look for ways to economically get to the edge of coverage to fill in. He mentioned government opportunities coming in with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, an FCC initiative designed to inject billions of dollars into the construction and operation of rural broadband networks.

“There are a lot of ideas around fixed wireless,” Knapp said. “We’re starting to see applications in that space. These are on top of the inundation of a large number of demands from the core three plus one that those requirements of building out the wide area of mid-band 5G, is really going hot and heavy. That’s part of what everybody’s looking at,” he said, referring to AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as the core three and Dish Network as the plus one.

The other ways 5G will move to the edge of the network in to rural areas involve potential fixed wireless improvements used to deliver connectivity more cost effectively than fiber, Knapp said. “We’re starting to see applications in that space, as well.”

Knapp gave a nod to the use of Citizens Broadband Radio Service frequencies as offering business expansion and ROI opportunity. “With General Authorized Access licenses, anybody can set up shop,” he said. “The Priority Access Licenses issued last fall are starting to make their way into the marketplace. Capital is readily available, and folks are signing up and applying. We see demand for those types of assets, as well. It’s a dynamic market between the mainstream carriers and these other folks including cable companies and, potentially, government entities.”

For the June 8 AGL Virtual Summit, Total Tech sponsors included Raycap, Valmont Site Pro 1, Vertical Bridge and B+T Group. Tech sponsors included Alden Systems and Aurora Insight. Viavi Solutions sponsored the keynote address. Additional sponsors included Gap Wireless, NATE, VoltServer and WIA.

J. Sharpe Smith programmed the Summit, and Kari Willis hosted. AGL Media Group has scheduled the next AGL Virtual Summit for Sept. 8. To register, click here.

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.

American Tower Metro Data Center Expands Facility

American Tower Metro Data Center in Atlanta adds square footage, capacity in response to growing customer demands

The American Tower Metro Data Center recently expanded its facility at 55 Marietta in downtown Atlanta. The addition brings nearly 20,000 square feet and two additional megawatts of capacity to the facility. American Tower recently fully integrated the data center, formerly Colo Atl, into the American Tower brand and announced the expansion, both of which demonstrate the company’s ongoing investment into the data center space and commitment to customers.

“Expanding in the telecom hub of Atlanta gives us the opportunity to provide our customers with more power and capacity, giving them a vehicle to provide stronger connectivity options,” says David Fox, Director of Business Development, U.S. Innovation for American Tower. “Since acquiring our facility at 55 Marietta nearly two years ago, we’ve been committed to providing state-of-the-art collocation facilities in downtown Atlanta, and this expansion is the latest step we’ve taken to fulfill that promise.”

With the completion of the expansion, the American Tower Metro Data Center now has a total footprint of ~44,500 square feet across the second, fifth and eighth floors. The added capacity brings the total capacity to four megawatts. Last year, additional improvements were completed, including renovations on the fifth floor, the addition of a new dedicated Meet-Me-Area, upgrades to the security and surveillance system, revamped workspaces on each floor for customers, and more.

“Our top priority continues to be providing the best possible customer service,” says Fox. “We will continue seeking out ways to offer optimal connectivity options to our customers, so we may keep providing one of the fastest, safest, and most secure collocation environments in one of the top data center markets in the U.S.

American Tower Moves Forward With Edge Data Centers

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

American Tower made an important step today in its efforts to provide edge data centers, debuting a channel program, which allows designated agents to play a key role in helping customers collocate in edge data centers in Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“With the focus on enterprise network elasticity and network disaster recovery, demand for bandwidth and connection from users at the edge is rising,” said David Fox, director of business development, U.S. tower innovation, American Tower. “The strategic location of our Edge data centers will help meet this demand.

Additionally, XaaS1 became first master agent signed up to lease space to end users for data center collocation at the edge.

“Because of XaaS1’s established relationships, our first master agent agreement will be a great vehicle to extend services to users who need critical data-intensive applications to work quickly and efficiently at the edge,” Fox said.

American Tower Edge Data Centers offer turnkey infrastructure, primary and backup power distribution, fire monitoring, security, and cooling. Using the ground space of existing towers, where connectivity already occurs, American Tower Edge Data Centers create an improved network architecture closer to key operators, which features guaranteed network service levels and 24/7/365 network operations center. The data centers feature secure areas with access control and 24/7/365 site monitoring.

American Tower Tackles Data Centers Globally

Tom Bartlett, president and CEO, said the company expects growth in providing data centers globally to MNOs, hyperscalers, enterprise accounts and data center companies, during the company’s fourth quarter 2020 earnings call. He said American Tower can provide a data center platform with its 200,000 sites in more than 20 countries, including the sites recently purchased from Telxius in Germany.

“In markets like Germany we anticipate that edge computing will be important for carriers and enterprise accounts themselves as they seize the benefits of 5G,” he said.

Vertiv, manufacturer of an edge-ready micro data center system, said the COVID-19 pandemic showed the criticality of data centers and vaulted them into fourth utility status.

“Data centers have been moving toward public utility-type status for some time, but the pandemic has crystalized the need to establish the kinds of official guardrails that have been commonplace across other utilities,” said Gary Niederpruem, chief strategy and development officer for Vertiv. “This isn’t just about working from home, although that is part of it. More importantly, it is about supporting the digital economy in its most mission-critical forms, which include increased reliance on telemedicine and health, enhanced e-commerce, and global telecommunications and mass media.”

Last fall, EdgePresence began deploying low-cost edge data centers nationally at cell tower sites in tier 2 and tier 3 markets through partnerships with Schneider Electric and its distributor Accu-Tech. The Schneider EcoStruxure Data Center solution provides redundant 12-cabinet microdata centers that serve 20 to 30 clients.

Early in 2019, Crown Castle International partnered with Vapor IO, a provider of tower-connected edge collocation and interconnection services, under the Vapor IO Kinetic Edge brand to use Crown Castle’s assets, including its tower real estate and metro fiber.

Vapor IO and Crown Castle later jointly developed a service that seamlessly interconnects Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge with Amazon Web Services (AWS) via Crown Castle’s high-speed Cloud Connect to enable a  mobile and wireless edge applications that span the continuum from edge to core.

Back in 2017, Vertical Bridge led the way in edge compute partnering with its sister company DataBank, a Dallas-based data center provider, to develop micro data centers (MDC) to host edge computing at the base of cell towers. The two companies’ parent corporation, Digital Bridge, publicly announced the plan to enter data centers back in 2014.

“We see micro data centers as part of the major convergence that is taking place,” said Bernard Borghei, executive vice president of operations and co-founder of Vertical Bridge. “Time was needed for technology to catch up, and the carriers needed to understand the benefits of this approach.”

Vertiv Experts Foresee Utility-Like Criticality for Data Centers in 2021

As the world moved online seemingly overnight in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the criticality of data centers and the unrelenting reliance on them across all walks of life became an enduring storyline of the crisis. This reality will manifest in new ways in 2021 as the data center and the information ecosystem orbiting it emerge from the pandemic with a fourth utility criticality, complete with all the expectations and responsibilities that implies. This is among the emerging 2021 data center trends identified by experts from Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions.

Data centers have long been held to high availability standards, but the shift toward utility-like status will be noticeable in two ways. First, those high expectations for network availability will extend deep into rural and remote areas, bringing critical applications to more of the population. This will increase pressure on data centers to maintain connectivity even at the outer edges of their networks. Second, any distinction between availability and connectivity will be erased, as the ability to ensure and protect connections across increasingly distributed hybrid networks becomes as much of a requirement as any traditional measure of data center uptime.

“Data centers have been moving toward public utility-type status for some time, but the pandemic has crystalized the need to establish the kinds of official guardrails that have been commonplace across other utilities,” said Gary Niederpruem, chief strategy and development officer for Vertiv. “This isn’t just about working from home, although that is part of it. More importantly, it is about supporting the digital economy in its most mission-critical forms, which include increased reliance on telemedicine and health, enhanced e-commerce, and global telecommunications and mass media.”

The pandemic effectively established a new baseline for digital infrastructure as the industry adjusts to and eventually moves beyond the global shutdown. Against this backdrop, Vertiv’s experts identified several other emerging trends to watch in 2021. They are:

  • Digitalization on Fast Forward: COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on the workforce and the IT ecosystem supporting the new work-from-home model. Vertiv experts expect the pandemic-motivated investment in IT infrastructure to continue and expand, enabling more secure, reliable, and efficient remote work capabilities. Remote visibility and management will become paramount to the success of these work-from-home models. Already remote service capabilities have emerged to minimize the need for on-site service calls, and those practices are likely to continue long after the pandemic. Any cautious steps taken early in the crisis will be accelerated as the pandemic pushes into 2021 and organizations accept these changes not as a temporary detour, but rather a permanent adjustment to the way we work and do business. Over time, what is done in-person versus remotely will change, and the change will be driven by customers looking to minimize their on-site presence. That places a premium on connectivity, remote monitoring, data analytics, and even artificial intelligence to make decisions.

“Recovery requires a change in mindset for most organizations,” said John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, in a recent statement. “There is no bouncing back. There needs to be a reset focused on moving forward.”

  • Bringing Large Data Center Capabilities to Small Spaces and the Edge: Today’s edge is more critical and more complex, functionally an extension of the data center rather than the glorified IT closet of the past. Cost and complexity have prevented implementation of data center best practices in these spaces, but that is changing. Vertiv’s experts anticipate a continued focus on bringing hyperscale and enterprise-level capabilities to these edge sites. This includes greater intelligence and control, an increased emphasis on availability and thermal management, and more attention to energy efficiency across systems.

 

  • The 5G Conversation Turns to Energy Consumption and Efficiency: In this early stage of 5G planning and launches, the discussion has rightly focused on the ultimate benefits of the technology – increased bandwidth and reduced latency – and the applications it will enable. However, as many countries begin their 5G wireless communicatons rollouts in 2021, and the early adopters start to drive breadth and scale, the focus will shift to the significant energy consumption increases brought on by 5G and strategies to deploy more efficiently and effectively. The network densification necessary to fully realize the promise of 5G unavoidably adds to the increased energy demands – estimated to be 3.5 times more than 4G. The coming year will see greater focus on managing that significant increase in energy consumption by exploring more efficient products and practices.

 

  • Sustainability Comes to the Forefront: 5G is one piece of a broader sustainability story. As the proliferation of data centers continues and even accelerates, especially in the hyperscale space, those cloud and colocation providers are facing increased scrutiny for their energy and water usage. The amplification of the climate change conversation and shifting political winds in the United States and globally will only add to the focus on the data center industry, which accounts for approximately 1 percent of global energy consumption. The coming year will see a wave of innovation focused on energy efficiency across the data center ecosystem. The benefits for data center operators are clear, starting with cost reduction, compliance with existing and anticipated regulations, and the goodwill that comes with establishing a leadership position in the global sustainability movement. Look for important innovations across the data center infrastructure space and especially in the area of thermal management.

Source: Vertiv