The metaverse is becoming a hot topic in the tech world, and attention is turning from the concept of a futuristic virtual world to the practical aspects of how this digital environment will be realized. One thing is clear: Edge computing will play a critical role in supporting the metaverse. Let’s explore this role further.
What is the metaverse?
The vision for the metaverse is of an integrated network of virtual worlds where people can interact. This network will be aided by virtual reality (VR) technology, which will allow users to immerse themselves in the experience.
The metaverse isn’t yet a reality, but big tech players are taking strides to make it so. Facebook, for example, changed its name to Meta last year, further cementing the company’s ambitions to contribute to the next chapter of the internet. CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained, “The metaverse is the next frontier, just like social networking was when [the company] got started.”
The metaverse will take time to build.
Experts recognize that it will take some time to conquer this new frontier, with some predicting the metaverse isn’t likely to mature until the late 2030s at the earliest. With concentrated intentions to make this a reality, why are we looking at an extended timeline for that to happen?
In short, the metaverse will require major advancements in data center infrastructure and, in all likelihood, will be primarily supported by public cloud providers. These providers must build out their capacity in order to meet the high demands of this extensive virtual network. For some, this will mean taking advantage of regional colocation facilities in order to create a more distributed network of infrastructure, as in the case of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
What role will edge computing play in the metaverse?
Infrastructure advancements are chiefly required at the edge, which will be an essential part of enabling the metaverse. The use cases for, and benefits that will be offered by, the metaverse are widely varied and include enriched, more immersive experiences in gaming, work collaboration, social media and more.
As an example, in the industrial space, the metaverse is expected to aid companies in digital transformation—a pursuit that research has shown helps manufacturing companies meet or exceed their margin targets on 10 percent more of their product development projects. The metaverse has extensive potential for manufacturing and the internet of things (IoT), including product design, remote maintenance, and VR and augmented reality (AR) training, among many others.
Metaverse applications call for minimal latency.
Across industries and use cases, metaverse applications have one key thing in common: They require minimal latency. Whether users are interacting with another person’s avatar or are taking part in a training simulation that requires real-time reactions, the metaverse must facilitate rapid, uninterrupted streaming.
This need for minimal latency makes the proximity of the nearest data center to the end user critical. As a writer for Enterprise Talk points out, “Edge computing bears the key to energizing the metaverse by delivering this experience consistently to everyone who wants to take part in a single-hosted environment at the same time and with low latency.”
Larger centralized data centers will still play a role in hosting some workloads, acting as a repository for data and creating insights from that data through technologies such as AI, but the most latency-sensitive workloads will need to be hosted at the edge, closer to the end user.
Edge data centers are already taking on increasing importance due to trends such as the IoT, remote work collaboration and rising bandwidth demands. The metaverse will further underscore the need to bring data centers to the edge.
How can modular construction support the metaverse at the edge?
Prefabricated, modular solutions can help enterprises, colocation providers and cloud providers build out their capacity at the edge. Taking these steps now will help meet the ever-increasing demand for computing at the edge and will help pave the way for the metaverse to become a reality.
Modular data centers can help companies take advantage of the metaverse.
Modular data centers (MDCs) are a natural fit for edge computing. Their fast and simple deployment and scalability make them a great way to build out data center capacity at the edge. Especially for companies seeking to take advantage of metaverse capabilities in a private context, MDCs are an excellent option that could help them realize the metaverse without relying on public cloud providers.
Modular skids can quickly increase capacity at the edge.
For hyperscalers providing public cloud services to support the metaverse, modular solutions such as electrical and mechanical skids can play a role in helping them rapidly increase their capacity at the edge. As with all-in-one MDCs discussed above, skids allow data centers to build out the infrastructure they need in a way that’s fast, involves easy installation and is highly scalable.
Stay on the edge of tech developments.
The metaverse may seem like a futuristic concept, but steps are being taken to turn it from concept to reality. One major step in this direction involves building out a data center presence at the edge. Want to stay up to date on the metaverse, edge data centers and other developing data center topics? Subscribe to the PCX blog, so you don’t miss any of our industry updates and insights.