The changing face of the network facility

Contributed Article

By Jon Abbott, Telecom Strategic Client Director Sales at Vertiv

The past 20 years have seen increases in communications network coverage, with the birth and adoption of mobility data and the cloud contributing to a huge ramp in traffic. Layers of technology have been added during this period and much of it is physically located in a growing number of facility locations.

These facilities, too numerous to name, are generally regarded as serving a particular purpose. For example, an In-line Amplifier (ILA) site is created to amplify or reconstitute a signal over a long route distance; an aggregation node is built to consolidate and disperse fibre routes to a city; a Cable Landing Station (CLS) is made as a landing point for a subsea cable to serve new territory or increase capacity to an existing territory. In all cases, the facility has a primary purpose and was dimensioned accordingly.

Fast forward to today and we are creating oceans of data (personally and professionally), most of which is processed in some way, stored, and recalled on demand. As a consequence, the data centre industry has grown and continues to grow by immense proportions.

We used to consider that the data centre was centrally architected. They were clustered in groups and located around four cities – at least for the European space – Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, and Paris. And so the FLAP market was born. Demand has shattered this limitation and those clusters have increased to include cities such as Dublin, Marseille, Lisbon, Berlin, Madrid, Milan, and Warsaw. The list continues to grow, and this effect is by no means restricted to Europe.


The principle of decentralised architecture goes way beyond just building more data centres. Decentralisation is making its way into the communication facilities themselves for two main reasons: The first is that pushing vast amounts of data between data centres is becoming inefficient and puts unnecessary strain on the networks. The second is the facility itself. Newer technologies are being deployed within facilities, resulting in densification of hardware. What once required several rows of rack space can now be contained in only a few racks, resulting in huge savings in the amount of physical space required. As a result, data can be cached between data centres within the network itself, and the available space can be repurposed as ‘white space’ for processing and storage tenants.

User processing and storage can occupy the same space in the same facilities as the network. It can be referred to as ‘Edge Computing’ or processing propagation. Either way, it will eventually saturate the network and it will be difficult to see where the network ends and the data centre starts.

At Vertiv, we don’t see function, we only see facilities – each with their own capacities and dimensions. In terms of physical support of passive infrastructure, the needs are changing.

Continuing with the examples referred to earlier, there are instances of ILA sites growing from their original capacity of about 3kW and taking less that a single rack of space to beyond 10x that amount, requiring five to eight racks of space for tenant data caching. In terms of new territory coverage, CLS is being blended with the data centre, right on the shoreline, making its own capacity demand grow from 100’s of kW to several MW, adding rows of whitespace to the facility. The aggregation node, perhaps most complex because it is a brownfield site, keeps its physical dimensions but is internally repurposed for whitespace tenancy with a different power and thermal profile.

If you work with a company that has a broad product portfolio, as Vertiv does, all things are possible; from revising power and cooling topologies, to utilising space, to enhancing your renewable energy management.

The data and communications spheres are not colliding – they are blending, creating the next evolutional step in network facilities.

For more information about Vertiv’s portfolio, visit

Want to learn more about Europe’s evolving data landscape? Join Vertiv at Stand 3 at Submarine Networks EMEA 2024, live in London!

Also in the news:
UK government conditionally approves £15bn Vodafone–Three merger
Nokia and Vodafone trial Open RAN with Arm and HPE
T-Mobile and Verizon to buy US Cellular, reports say

Recent Posts