Michael Morey, President and CEO of Bluebird Network, was featured on a recent episode of the Careers for Women, Trades and Veterans in Tech and Data Centers podcast on June 8, 2023. The podcast is hosted by industry expert Carrie Goetz, author of Jumpstart Your Career in Data Centers. On the latest episode, Morey addresses the basics of fiber, how Bluebird Network manages their fiber routes and data centers, and how Bluebird plans to meet the needs of the future with edge connectivity.
Bluebird Network, a communications infrastructure provider and operator, is situated in the Midwest with their Bluebird Underground Data Center in Springfield, Missouri, and the Bluebird Quad Cities Data Center in Illinois. The two facilities are strategically located on polar ends of the company’s robust 11,200-mile fiber network which spans across its 11-state digital footprint.. The centers operate with 25 differentiated carriers collectively, making them a carrier-neutral facility, something Morey believes is paramount when providing network connectivity to all areas — rural and metropolitan alike.
“We work like crazy to have all of the local carriers plugged into our data center directly,” Morey says. “In Springfield, we have five different carriers. Up in the Quad Cities, we’ve got over 20 carriers in our facility. It’s one of the main things people look to us for.”
Morey states the importance of Bluebird’s expansive fiber footprint across the Midwest, ensuring accessibility for local communities and growing businesses in the region.
“People forget about how critical the fiber infrastructure is,” he says, explaining that Bluebird relies substantially on ground-laid, structured cabling versus aerial fiber for the protective benefits.
“Less than 2% of our fiber is aerial, and that is in areas — such as bridges — where we were not able to put it in the ground,” he said.
This protects the vital infrastructure of Bluebird’s network from human error and natural threats, leading to optimal uptime and uninterrupted service.
Once the fiber is in place, Morey stresses the importance of multiple points of access. Bluebird’s Underground Data Center in Springfield, Missouri, has a total of five entrances, allowing carriers to enter the facility from any direction, ensuring carrier accessibility for the entire region. For Bluebird network, the aim is “three degrees of access,” ensuring uptime even in the more dire circumstances.
“Bluebird really likes to see three degrees of access into data centers because two isn’t enough,” he says, referencing an occasion in which two carriers had simultaneously gone down for maintenance.
“It’s expected maybe once every five-to-six years, [carriers will] have a small outage. For data centers, that’s unacceptable. If you don’t have three degrees of access with fiber, something like that will happen someday.”
Finally, Morey discusses the future needs of edge versus regional data centers in the Midwest, and Bluebird‘s plans to meet them. He emphasizes that this is not just maintaining unflinching dependability, but also increasing connectivity speeds.
“The industry is changing,” he says. “Traditionally, edge data centers have been within 20 milliseconds of the workload that you’re trying to access. Our two regional data centers are perfectly situated so that we can get anywhere in our network in that time or less. But now, we hear people talking about wanting five milliseconds or less.”
He says utilizing multiple 10×20-foot buildings located at various points within Bluebird Network’s digital footprint were initially used to store network equipment as edge data centers. This allows Bluebird to store workloads that need to be within five milliseconds in the edge data market. Currently, Bluebird has around 35 of these edge centers, but plans to expand upon this.
“Our plan is to continue to grow and densify those,” Morey says. “We are trying to get those kinds of edge facilities within five milliseconds of every place within our 11-state region. Slowly but surely, we are getting there.”
To hear more of Morey’s conversation about fiber and network connectivity in the Midwest, as well as industry expertise from Bluebird’s own roadmap, tune into the podcast here.