The Next Big Thing is Small: Micro Data Centres

May 17, 2022 3 Minute Read

The Next Big Thing is Small: Micro Data Centres

The rise of edge computing could soon see Canadian cities dotted with micro data centres — some as small as the size of a few parking stalls — located adjacent to the businesses they’re servicing, versus in a central large-scale traditional data centre.

It represents an emerging commercial real estate opportunity that CBRE’s Felipe Donda, a Montreal-based data centre transaction manager who recently moved to Canada from Brazil, is working with clients to get ready to accommodate.

When the shift happens, it's going to go from trailblazing to ubiquitous really fast. - Filipe Donda

“We’re tracking the growing demand to see when it starts to peak, and when it does, we need the spaces for it,” he says, noting there is keen interest in Montreal and Toronto in particular. “When the shift happens, it’s going to go from trailblazing to ubiquitous really fast.”

Edge computing gathers data generated by smart devices or Internet of Things (IoT) and processes that data on site (at a shopping mall, airport or stadium, for example, where data transmission requirements are considerable), instead of sending it to a distant location for processing.

This proximity results in more instant and localized data, enabling users to store content, process applications locally (like shopping carts or ad insertion engines), optimizing internet devices.

It could be an ideal opportunity for Canadian landlords that own portfolios of larger commercial real estate properties like shopping malls and office towers, where edge computing infrastructure could fill vacant space that isn’t viable for any other commercial use.

Micro Data Centre Rendering Courtesy of AKCP
Micro Data Centre Rendering Courtesy of AKCP


This could benefit retailers who are introducing frictionless self-service shopping, which doesn’t require the scanning of a bar code. A customer simply shows up, their phone is detected by the edge computing centre, they grab their goods and are on their way, having an accurate digital charge applied to them.

“You’ll be able to get into the store, get all the things you need and just walk away - the data analysis will do the rest for you,” says Donda. “Once more retailers start to do this, we’ll need to have space in the cities to process all this data fast enough. Think of it as last mile fulfillment for data centres.

“Having edge computing infrastructure spread throughout the city will be a crucial component of the Internet of Things,” he adds. “Before long it's going to be everywhere.”