Your apps are like icebergs

11 February 2019

In just ten years, your smartphone has become the central technological device in your life. But do you really know how it works? See, your smartphone is like an iceberg. What you can see above the water is in fact just a tiny part of the whole structure. Every app and service requires a huge operating infrastructure that you’re probably not even aware of. Data centers like LCL play a crucial role in keeping your smartphone running.

When mobile phones broke through in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, they had three main functions: make calls, send text messages and play snake. That has changed profoundly. Our mobile phone became smart. Now we are so used to its functionality and user-friendliness that we don’t have a clue what it takes to make the phone smart.

There’s a massive infrastructure behind the operating system and behind every app you install on your phone. The main features of a smartphone are the connectivity and the ability to exchange data that’s on your phone with data that’s stored on other locations.

One small example: adding an event to your calendar. The data of your appointment needs to be stored, obviously. But your phone also needs to communicate with other synced devices like a laptop or tablet. And this data always needs to be shared, whether you are at home or on holiday in New Zealand.

Another example is Netflix. When you watch a movie on Netflix is that you get access to files and you stream them to your device. Obviously this requires constant data traffic. Furthermore, this isn’t a one-way trip. Netflix also needs to handle the feedback you give via your account. All this data trafic requires fast and powerful connections, trustworthy operators and, of course, data centers that assure data storage and communications.

Another factor that needs to be taken into account is all the energy this requires. Sending a signal halfway around the globe requires a lot of power. All of the infrastructure that is needed to power the apps on your smartphone uses energy and resources. In this day and age, with growing concerns about climate change and emissions, this will become an issue. Just like cheap flights and car emissions, the energy consumption by our digital infrastructure will be under the spotlight. That’s why at LCL, we are committed to ‘going green’ and conducting our operations as efficiently as possible.

Laurens van Reijen

Managing Director, LCL Data Centers