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Hugh Carspecken, CEO of DartPoints, presents the importance of driving edge computing – the evolution of applications, how customers employ applications and the need for data analytics. With the increasing demand of online video and sensors, the need for edge computing is rapidly growing. See how DartPoints is leading the way in edge computing infrastructure via micro data centers.

DartPoints integrates critical infrastructure technology directly into the enterprise customer with data centers right on the premises. This gives customers all the advantages of an off-premise data center – all onsite. See how DartPoints builds micro data centers that meet customer needs and leads the way in edge computing.

ADVA and DartPoints Define a Realistic Model for Distributed NFV Data Centers

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When ADVA bought Overture Networks, one of the six companies who I believe has a full-spectrum NFV solution that can make a business case, I was critical of the fact that they seemed to be positioning Overture as a limited extension to the carrier Ethernet business. Now they’ve made their positioning clearer with an announcement that DartPoints, a supplier of on-premises micro-datacenters, has selected the ADVA Ensemble NFV products as a key element in their service plans. This goes a long way toward establishing ADVA’s commitment to NFV, and it makes an important point about NFV too.

One of the most difficult challenges that NFV, in its vCPE guise, faces is getting out of the CPE edge device and into the cloud. The business case for deploying agile CPE is only slightly related to that of NFV, and the technology for NFV is overkill if all your VNFs are going to do is squat in the customer edge device and wait to be changed around. NFV technology is valuable when VNFs have to be more spread around.

DartPoints is an example of a logical pathway to expand the number of places where VNFs could be hosted. Instead of requiring operators to jump from the customer premises directly to a cloud data center somewhere in a metro area, DartPoints provides a facility micro-datacenter that’s located in multi-tenant facilities and can host, securely, the virtual functions for a group of tenants. It’s a very logical idea given that 1) many operators already run fiber to major office buildings and campus locations to provide service to the tenants and 2) most multi-site businesses have at least some if not all their operations in a multi-site location.

The application is based on a hardened ADVA server that hosts the functions, a software platform created by the Ensemble Connector software instance that represents each tenant and provides a common deployment and management platform for VNFs, and the Ensemble Orchestrator for deployment and lifecycle management. Because the hardware/server from ADVA is multi-tenant, the cost is shared across the users of the micro-datacenter and that makes the VNFs more attractive.

It may be that the most interesting thing about the micro-datacenter concept is the fact that it’s a jump to an edge-distributed multi-tenant cloud for VNF hosting. One of the problems I’ve identified with NFV progression from the virtual CPE model is that the logical next step is to start building a central resource pool to offload functions from the edge. That’s obviously the next move from a financial standpoint, but it creates long data paths and it also creates the risk that all your VNFs are now stranded in the center of each metro area, when many NFV applications (mobile services, content delivery, and IoT to name a few) are better served if you host them at the edge.

Could micro-datacenters, located in multi-tenant facilities, help solve this? For business services, they certainly could, but I think they could also help solve them for other services as well. Operators could build on the deployments of micro-datacenters used to support building tenants to support nearby cell sites, deploy content caches, and do a lot of other critical stuff. The result could be an NFV deployment that puts the power of VNFs where it has to be to support the largest number of valuable services.

Even if operators don’t see the benefits of micro-datacenters right away, what’s to prevent somebody like DartPoints from taking the next step down the line? The DartPoints model might be the most critical single thing that’s come along for NFV because it might point to a way for OTT-like deployment of NFV, a way to create multi-service edge hosting points that anyone might then take advantage of in a service sense. It’s especially interesting since shopping malls and food courts are multi-tenant facilities and could easily justify a micro-datacenter. From there, the concept could expand both in terms of the number of facilities and the number of supported services.

For ADVA, the critical thing here is that this is a real NFV application and not just VNF-squatting. We have a very small number of NFV services today that can credibly claim to exercise a large portion of even the functionally limited ETSI specifications. Here’s one that can exercise all the components needed to make an NFV business case, and by doing so it proves that a full-scale NFV business case can be made, at least in a technical sense.

I don’t know if we’re going to hear much about the mobile and content implications of this announcement even though we’re in the midst of MWC, but I think that the story could be really interesting to MVNOs as well as to the prime mobile operators. There is nothing in the mobile application of NFV more important than getting those hosting points out there toward the network edge, because without that you have to compromise things like the delivery of content, the utility of virtual RAN strategies, or the agility of IoT-related control of facilities. All these things need a short delivery path.

I had a chance to chat with ADVA’s business lead on the Ensemble unit, where Overture went within ADVA, and there seems to be a commitment to pursue Ensemble NFV in the most aggressive way. This is a darn good start because it leads to so many follow-on services and applications, and because it showcases the broad orchestration and management support that Ensemble has had all along. ADVA might take steps now that would start to separate the NFV pretenders from the players who can really do something.

It doesn’t hurt that ADVA is primarily a fiber player either. Metro infrastructure for mobile services is mostly fiber deployment of capacity combined with hosted IMS/EPC/RAN elements. The DartPoints model demonstrates that can be done by taking advantage of convenient multi-tenant facilities. Many of whom, by the way, already have mobile antenna systems on their roofs.

I can’t say for sure that ADVA will be as aggressive as they could be with this, but I do think that an emerging model of NFV deployment that takes real and useful steps toward the optimum model of NFV data centers could be very powerful. I’ll be watching how this plays out.

Author:
Tom Nolle, President of CIMI Corp
CIMI Corp Blog

DartPoints Deploys ADVA Ensemble for Pure-Play NFV

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ADVA

ADVA Optical Networking’s High-Performance Virtualization Solution Creates New Revenue Streams

ADVA Optical Networking today announced that DartPoints is deploying the ADVA Ensemble solution to transform its data center services and generate new revenue opportunities. Dallas-based DartPoints, a leading provider of customized data center solutions, is utilizing the pure-play network functions virtualization (NFV) technology for several new business cases. The ADVA Ensemble product suite will be used to support multi-vendor virtual network functions (VNFs) that can be managed either by DartPoints or by the customer. It will also enable multi-tenancy VNFs. The first of these to be rolled out will be virtual firewalls and routers managed by DartPoints.

“One of the key reasons we chose ADVA Optical Networking’s pure-play virtualization platform was because it enables us to mix and match software with open hardware for high velocity and service agility,” said Satya Baddipudi, CTO, DartPoints. “The ADVA Ensemble solution also gives us the freedom to locate functions where they’ll be most efficient and where they best meet our customers’ needs. What’s more, with the Ensemble Orchestrator we’re able to provision a single instance of a virtualized network function across multiple customers, which creates an especially attractive total cost of ownership model.”

DartPoints is utilizing several key elements of the ADVA Ensemble product suite. This includes the Ensemble Connector, a virtualization platform that provides virtual switching, flow steering across diverse physical and virtual network systems and Carrier Ethernet 2.0 functionality, all in a hardware-agnostic, software-only instance. The platform runs on the ADVA FSP 150 vSE, an Intel-based server wrapped in a carrier-class chassis. Paired with the Ensemble Connector, the ADVA FSP 150 vSE provides one platform for both services and network access, hosting multiple combinations of software-based VNFs required for a service chain. The Ensemble Orchestrator has also been installed to instantiate and provision VNFs from multiple vendors

“DartPoint’s first pure-play NFV deployment highlights the power of the Ensemble Orchestrator – a full-featured management and orchestration solution,” said Prayson Pate, CTO, ADVA Ensemble Division. “In this case, automated instantiation, provisioning and partitioning enables resources to be shared for optimized utilization and significantly lower overhead costs. DartPoints can now instantly deploy on-demand VNFs at the customer premise to simplify operations and unleash service innovation. And, with the ADVA Ensemble pure-play virtualization platform, DartPoints is free of vendor lock-in – free to innovate, free to respond instantly to customer needs.”

About ADVA Optical Networking
At ADVA Optical Networking we’re creating new opportunities for tomorrow’s networks, a new vision for a connected world. Our intelligent telecommunications hardware, software and services have been deployed by several hundred service providers and thousands of enterprises. Over the past twenty years, our innovative connectivity solutions have helped to drive our customers’ networks forward, helped to drive their businesses to new levels of success. We forge close working relationships with all our customers. As your trusted partner we ensure that we’re always ready to exceed your networking expectations. For more information on our products and our team, please visit us at: www.advaoptical.com.

Published By:
ADVA Optical Networking SE, Munich, Germany
www.advaoptical.com

DartPoints CEO Answers The Question: What’s Driving The North Texas Data Center Boom?

This article was originally posted on The Dallas Business Journal. Read it here.

With the city’s booming technology sector, data is keeping the D in Dallas.

The area hosts at least 56 data centers, almost half of all facilities in Texas, according to Data Center Map, a website that has cataloged 2,500 facilities in 90 countries. That figure is also larger than the number of centers in Houston, Austin and San Antonio combined.

Aside from the already-established facilities, additional sites are underway, including QTS’ mega data center on 40 acres in Irving. After completion, it will be one of three mega centers QTS owns in the United States.

But what’s making North Texas attractive for data hubs? The answer begins with the region reeling in companies from around the world, like global finance firm UBS. With every corporation comes large data storage needs, and where a commodity is in demand, innovation in the sector gets a big push.

One factor is Dallas’ fiber optic network, built in the late 1990s. At that time, developers built three large power grids across the country — an East Coast grid, a West Coast grid and a Texas grid. Originally designed to connect the United States for phone service, existing fiber optic cable is now being repurposed to connect companies with data centers across DFW. Easy access to fiber offers a big lure for data centers looking for a place to build.

“This is a crossroads of where AT&T and other companies had built their networks years ago,” said Hugh Carspecken, CEO of DartPoints, a Dallas-based company that provides on- and near-site data center services. “That makes Dallas one of the top data center spots in the country, if not in the world.”

Keep reading this post on The Dallas Business Journal

Micro Data Centers: An Innovative Case of Data Center Design and Operations

*Originally posted on Schneider Electric’s blog. Image used courtesy of Schneider Electric. View the original post here.

The most dangerous phrase in our industry is, “we’ve always done it this way,” and as such, we make it our initiative at Schneider Electric to expel the culture of convention from everything we do. Realizing this, and with the need to balance control and flexibility, DartPoints embraced a partnership with Schneider Electric that allows them to have both. They call their unique category of forward-thinking colocation data centers and services the DartPoints Private Colo™.

Colocation Micro Data Centers

“We’re building micro data centers that are built in 100kW chunks so we can expand and contract with customer demand,” DartPoints CEO, Hugh Carspecken explains.

There’s a lot of buzz around mega data centers these days, but the idea employed here is to create a modular and scalable design that will make colocation more accessible, private, and local for small and medium businesses. By using pre-configured micro data center pods, we were confident that DartPoints would be able to easily replicate this design, capable of going live in as little as 45 days, anywhere across the United States.

Keep reading this post on schneider-electric.com.

Why Your Community Needs A Data Center And How To Attract One

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The recent explosive growth in demand for data storage, cloud computing and big data is matched only by the surge in demand for data centers; all of which is outpacing the industry’s rate of expansion. New colocation & cloud providers are emerging everywhere and industry veterans are expanding like mad to capitalize on the market, which Gartner forecasts will grow 4% to $156 billion in 2014. (Source: 2013 InfoTechLead.com) However, even as the demand rises, competition and perceived value are driving down rates across the industry.

Tightening margins and growing demand have companies in the data center space focused on developing unique offerings and competitive advantages to differentiate them from their competitors. Core values like accessibility, supply of redundant power and use of green/clean energy have always been important selling points to colocation and cloud providers in the past. However, demand for services, economic incentives, and a friendly political environment are emerging as the leading criteria for site selection today.

Location has always been a major part of data center planning, but now there are as many economic and political factors at play as geographic and climate concerns. As a result of the evolution of the data center industry, massive economic opportunities are materializing in smaller cities & rural towns that can attract data center projects. Recent legislation in Texas, Virginia, Nevada, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Mississippi, Iowa and other states has attracted significant projects to each that are projected to add millions a year in revenue to the local communities.

The flagship data center projects in these states were naturally supported by massive providers like Facebook, Google and others. But as the economic impact of those projects is revealed over time a “gold rush” will take place as local governments scramble to secure data center developments of all types and sizes.

Following the construction of their facility in Oregon, Facebook commissioned ECONorthwest to produce a study on the economic impact of the project on the local community. Reduced to the salient paragraph; the paper surmises:

“Total capital costs associated Facebook’s Prineville Data Center Project to date are approximately $210.4 million. We estimate that, between January 2010 and December 2011, approximately $14.5 million in capital spending has accrued to businesses in central Oregon and $61.2 million benefited workers and businesses in other parts of the state. In total, we estimate that Oregon has captured approximately 36 percent (or $75.7 million) of the capital spending on the Prineville Data Center Project to date.” (Source: 2013 The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Facebook’s Data Center in Oregon)

Facebook’s data centers are on a scale far beyond the typical colocation provider, without a doubt. However, this example demonstrates a viable model for projecting the economic value of a data center project. Fundamentally, data centers of all sizes are inherently similar and are, in effect, built to scale. Therefore, for the sake of conversation, it’s safe to assume that any data center project could contribute approximately 30%-40% of its construction expenses to the local economy. And that’s just one-time construction spending…

The study additionally reports an additional $10 million per year in revenues from jobs created both directly and indirectly by Facebook’s new data center. Further, that the economic benefits of “multiplier spending effects” from outsourced jobs, the infusion of non-local revenue and spending from new high-income employees will have a residual positive effect.

Honestly, it’s difficult to estimate what amount of revenue smaller data center projects might bring to a community. It’s not difficult to see, however, the variety of different ways which data centers can stimulate the local economy. The multiplication effect, I think, is particularly fascinating. By introducing additional high paying jobs and outsourced jobs, the area invariably benefits from increased spending; akin to some sort of IT economic stimulus plan.

This could represent a completely new stream of revenue for a small city or rural town; particularly valuable to those who are suffering from economic recession. It may be that eventually, every community will support data centers of one kind or another. But the cities and states that become players in the data center industry stand to gain billions (and potentially trillions) in future dollars from that investment.

More and more states are launching economic initiatives and passing helpful legislation to attract data center projects. Virginia is, by far, the most successful at this effort; with numerous political organizations like the North Virginia Technology Council and the Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure Committee working in tandem to facilitate new data center developments in the area.

In a guest opinion in the Loudoun Times in March of 2013, Delegate Barbara Comstock (R-34th District), shared that,

“Our aim is to be one of the most “data center friendly” places in the country…In 2012, data center companies such as Equinix, Raging Wire, Latisys and DuPont Fabros have expanded in Virginia along with industry leaders Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. As The Washington Post reported last year, the county now has about 40 centers comprising roughly 4 million square feet of space, which is equivalent to 22 Wal-Mart Supercenters.” (Source: 2013 The Loudoun Times)

Virginia’s winning strategy includes three crucial components; first a geographically-viable location, second, economic incentives and third (and most importantly), supportive local businesses operating in a friendly political climate. The importance of the formation of advocacy and special interest groups like the NVTC and DCCIC cannot be overstated. These organizations “lay out the welcome mat” to data center providers shopping for new locations.

Another example of this model in practice is Chicago’s Data Center Express project, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel explained would “streamline the startup process for data centers,” and, “…make it easier for data centers to provide their vital services to Chicago’s businesses, creating jobs and economic opportunity throughout the city,” at the program’s launch in June of 2013. (Source: 2013 CityOfChicago.com)

These trailblazers have created ecosystems in which data center providers can thrive, built on economic incentives, community initiatives and increased awareness. The local governments have recognized the long-term benefits of attracting data center business and are working hard to ease the transition of new developments. These key factors have contributed to their success (in order of importance):

Established demand from the community
Direct access to major Internet networks
Political initiatives and strategic partnerships
Redundant and plentiful power supply
Economic incentives (tax and utilities)
Geographic viability & special features (green energy, cool climate, etc)

Any data center provider will agree, one of the most attractive incentives that a community can offer is a friendly welcome and introductions to the businesses in the community that most need their services. By forming initiatives like Data Center Express, local governments send a signal to the industry that they’re committed to working with data center providers and ready to help them integrate into the community. It may be time for your community to consider a similar commitment…

*image used courtesy of Data Center Knowledge

Expand Into New Markets With Private Colo™

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Despite the growing hype surrounding cloud computing, the colocation industry is still far from becoming irrelevant. In fact, a study from IMS Research (an IHS company), projects that demand for colocation will continue to rise significantly over the next several years.

“The North American colocation sector generated $6.5 billion in revenue in 2012, and is expected to grow to $10 billion by 2017” (Source Data Center Knowledge 2013)

Another report, from Research and Markets, estimates that the colocation industry will grow at a CAGR of 13.36 percent from 2012 to 2016 (Source Research and Markets 2013). The report also indicates that prices for colocation services continue to fall while the demand increases; demonstrating the extreme level of competition that exists between colocation providers today.

Currently, the majority of data center facilities in the US reside in only a handful of metropolitan areas. According to research from The 451 Group,

The top data center markets by operating square feet are, New York, North Virgina, Silicon Valley, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles and despite enormous expansion each year, demand is expected to continue to outpace growth. Incredibly, 191 providers host nearly 800 facilities located in just the top 20 markets in the US. (Source: North American Multi-Tenant Datacenter Supply: Emerging Major Markets 2012)

While not conclusive on its own, this data strongly suggests that the colocation industry has become focused on specific geographic areas rather than national coverage. Quality colocation facilities are fairly rare in non-metropolitan areas because of limited access to utilities, geographic concerns and a smaller volume of potential customers.

However, expanding into new territories has always been a major financial risk for colocation providers. Traditional data center planning strategies rely on economies of scale to manage costs over the lifetime of a data center facility. Data centers are typically built to support projected future demand and, as such, up-front construction and utility expenses make expansion a risky proposition.

At DartPoints, we have the advantage of being highly scalable and largely location-independent. We can deploy new, “right-sized” data centers effectively anywhere in the US, within approximately 60 days. Partnering with other colocation providers is logistically beneficial to DartPoints and our partners enjoy some important competitive advantages.

Eliminate risk by “paying as you grow” with DartPoints in Private Colo™ or limited multi-tenant facilities in nearly any city in the US. Instead of building data centers based on imperfect projections of future demand, expand as demand increases with our just-in-time, private colocation service plans.

Translate the capital expenses of deploying new data centers into manageable monthly leases.

Grow where your customers go. When they expand, or change locations, keep their business by leveraging DartPoints to provide a data center in their area.

Explore the viability of new geographical areas without capital risk.

Find new ways to ‘diversify your portfolio’ and gain a competitive edge.

As the demand for colocation continues to rise, competition will inevitably become more fierce and profit margins may diminish. Establishing strategic partnerships along the way will provide forward-thinking colocation providers an edge in an increasingly dense marketplace.

Our mission at DartPoints isn’t to dominate the colocation market or even to compete directly with other colocation providers (though we do offer retail colocation as well). Our goal is to provide a scalable, distributed Tier* quality infrastructure as a new option for colocation providers, small-to-medium-sized businesses and the enterprise alike.

Private Colo™, is our premium-quality service plan, designed specifically with the growing colocation provider in mind. If the idea of opening new facilities without the commitment and costs of a traditional build-out piques your interest, please contact DartPoints for a complimentary evaluation and a tour of our facilities.

This post was written by Nathan Binford, to reflect the views and opinions of the team at DartPoints. Nathan is the primary blogger for DartPoints and contributes to a variety of other sites and publications as well.

How To Protect Yourself From Data Center Disasters

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Hurricane Sandy (2012) proved that disaster recovery is a very real concern which has the potential to exceed even our worst fears. Overnight millions of dollars of hardware was lost at dozens of data centers throughout New York and New Jersey. Over the following few days, millions more were spent keeping those data centers alive, but running on fumes.

Cloud, colocation and private data centers alike were severely impacted. To their credit, the staff of the affected data centers performed near miraculous acts to prevent loss of data and reduce downtime. However, the scarcity, cost and environmental concerns raised by the use of emergency gas generators should give pause to anyone creating a disaster recovery plan.

The manager of one of the data centers affected by Hurricane Sandy, a significant component in the technology infrastructure of a large international company, was interviewed about the his staff’s experiences during Hurricane Sandy.

He described a nightmarish situation,

“The campus was swamped with six to seven feet of water. Both its power substations were under water, as were the diesel fuel pumps. UPS batteries were nearing their end of life. Street power was out, and access to the facility was hindered by partially collapsed road.” (Source: Data Center Knowledge 2013)

Even the best facility designs couldn’t prevent the damage caused to the local roads and numerous days without power. No amount of on-site preparation can assuage the financial pain of running emergency generators for days on end or ordering emergency replacements during a crisis.

Even if you can source replacement gear, paying for it can be challenging. “I spent close to $2 million in four days…That’s tricky when your company card limit is $50,000 and your internal procurement systems are down”. (Source: LifeHacker 2013)

Colocation providers like Internap and Peer1 suffered tremendous financial losses while dealing with the hurricane damage in New York. Internap alone burned almost 20,000 gallons of fuel to keep their generators functioning. Staff at Peer1 recalls the extreme measures they were forced to take,

“They had their brigade of people carrying five-gallon buckets [of gasoline] up 18 flights of stairs or whatever it was to get to their auxiliary generator.” (Source: ArsTechnica 2012)

Data centers managers in New York and New Jersey could have saved millions of dollars if they had moved data and applications to remote disaster recovery sites before the storm. Their data center staff could have focused their energy on protecting their equipment, applications and data; but instead they were forced to go days without food in flooded buildings carrying buckets of gasoline to generators struggling to keep up with the load.

Many survivors of hurricane Sandy publicly hailed cloud computing as the stop gap solution for disaster recovery; but why should you suddenly feel comfortable exposing your data to the public cloud simply because Mother Nature overwhelmed your disaster plan? This strategy may be perfectly adequate for email and other non-essential data; but may not be appropriate for sensitive or mission-critical data. In terms of privacy and security, deploying your own assets to a disaster recovery site in a remote location is preferable to the public cloud when storing any kind of sensitive data.

Emergency measures, as impressive and well-intentioned as they may be, don’t replace the need for a real disaster plan. In a recent interview with The Data Center Journal, Dr. Alex Winokur (CTO and cofounder of Axxana), outlines a thoughtful and sensible approach to disaster recovery planning for data centers,

“The question shouldn’t be, “How do you mitigate disaster risks to your data centers?” but rather, “How do you mitigate disaster risks to your applications and your data?” The only way I know to do that is to have two data centers a long distance apart…If your data center is in a disaster zone, and it’s your only data center, and it has your only copies of the data, then you may never recover.” (Source: The Data Center Journal 2013)

The challenges faced by companies wanting to establish a reliable and cost-effective disaster recovery site was one of the inspirations behind the creation of DartPoints’ network of data centers. DartPoints’ Private Colo solution gives you the same privacy and security of your own corporate data center in the location of your choice, but offers this service at the price point of traditional multi-tenant data centers.

Two data centers really are better than one…

This post was written by Nathan Binford, to reflect the views and opinions of the team at DartPoints. Nathan is the primary blogger for DartPoints and contributes to a variety of other sites and publications as well.

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