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The Impact of 5G on Data Centers

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The current “big thing” in network technology is 5G, and organizations need to adapt as it quickly becomes the new standard. It promises greater speed, lower latency, and higher connectivity. Organizations can move more data, become more responsive, and connect more devices to a network without losing any performance. 5G will affect — or may already be affecting — everything from your smartphone to your data center, and not in small ways.


With the shift to 5G, every smartphone on the market will support the speedy technology standard. Unfortunately, one major casualty will be the older 3G networks. AT&T has plans to be the first carrier to drop support of its 3G network by February 2022.1

Data Centers

5G will deliver a seismic shift in the performance of digital devices we can easily hold in our hands, but what about the rows of racks, switches, and servers in data centers? Your company has one —a facility that centralizes your shared IT operations and equipment and is constantly storing, processing, and disseminating data. Because it is home to your most critical and proprietary assets, data centers are vital to the continuity of daily operations. Consequently, the security and reliability of data centers must be among an organization’s top priorities.

By some estimates, the advent of 5G will have data center operators spending over half their operating budget to support 5G by 2025.2 According to DatacenterDynamics, one key concept related to data centers is critical in supporting the blinding speeds that 5G is projected to offer.

Living on the “Edge”

For those less familiar with network jargon, mentioning “The Edge” could bring to mind the guitarist for the Irish rock band U2. But in the world of networking and 5G, the Edge is defined as “a distributed information technology architecture in which client data is processed at the periphery of the network, as close to the originating source as possible.” (For use cases that would benefit from computing on the Edge, think autonomous vehicles, Smart cities, industrial automation, virtual reality programs, etc.) The traditional computing paradigm built on a centralized data center and everyday Internet isn't well-suited to moving endlessly-growing rivers of real-world data. Bandwidth limitations, latency issues, and unpredictable network disruptions can all conspire to impair such efforts. Businesses are responding to these data challenges through the use of Edge computing architecture. 3

According to DatacenterDynamics, Edge computing and 5G are likely to co-evolve, working in tandem to exploit the best features of each other. A Gartner study found that edge computing will account for 75 percent of enterprise-generated data by 2025 (it currently only accounts for 10 percent). The huge upswing is because many of the applications that 5G is touted to provide require a huge volume of data to be processed at the Edge to work efficiently. Currently, there’s no good way of processing data at the Edge and then sending it back to a traditional data center. The vast amount of 5G data will be processed on the Edge, and that means we will see a shift from cloud-scale data centers toward localized, low-latency services. 4

APCON is prepared to be a major player in the Edge build-out. The Edge translates to a lot of smaller, geographically distributed data centers that will require — just like in traditional data centers — a network visibility technology platform to help identify blind spots, bottlenecks, and potential performance issues to prevent threats to 5G security and speed.

Service providers will deploy these Edge nodes as mesh networks with an east-to-west flow and parallel data paths to meet these requirements. Some of these nodes may be considered micro data centers or pod-type data centers, similar to those being used by telecom and cable providers.4

There will be a number of obstacles to overcome if a data center is to be 'future-proofed,' such as investing in a decentralized public, private, and hybrid cloud infrastructure that can be distributed to the Edge.

An industry-leading solution

APCON has developed solutions to help organizations prepare for growing networks that 5G demands. APCON’s IntellaView platform is the world’s highest-capacity visibility platform, providing complete access into high-traffic, high-density networks. With IntellaView, organizations can confidently accelerate their ongoing 5G digital transformation initiatives by creating an end-to-end visibility fabric that enables advanced monitoring, securing, and analysis of hybrid applications and infrastructures and provide security/monitoring tools with the exact data they need rather than all data, ultimately enabling these tools to run more effectively.

For more information about APCON’s next-generation hybrid visibility platform, click here.

1 Unless your phone is on this list, it’ll stop working when AT&T shuts down its old network

2 5G and the Role of the Data Center | Anixter

3 What Is Edge Computing? Everything You Need to Know (

4 How 5G will affect the structure of data centers - DCD (

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