In a world moving at breakneck speed, demanding more bandwidth, more data and more content, one solution is driving a lion’s share of digital growth — The Edge. The terms “edge” and “edge computing” have been reverberating around the data center industry for some time. The moment has come to peel back the layers and take a closer look at the inner workings of this technology. Edge leverages augmented computing processes that operate closer to the end user. That proximity also brings with it a host of exciting benefits, and also a steep learning curve. Though developers are still working things out, expect to see the industry make a mass exodus to the edge.
New Continuum, Eli Scher (NC-ES) Question: Tell us a bit about the edge and edge computing. What is it, why has it become so critical within the world of data centers and how is it continuing to develop?
Stulz, Manohar Reddy (S-MR) Answer: Edge computing is the next wave of the internet. Definitions of the edge certainly vary, but essentially, the edge is where the end-users are. Edge computing brings memory, computing power, data processing and services to the source of the data instead of confining it to centralized clouds in data centers. This creates benefits such as improved latency, better security and more. The traditional method of connecting from the main hub or data center to the consumer or business incurred a significant amount of two-way data transmission cost (Opex) and at a huge upfront investment (Capex). The challenge of meeting the ever-growing demand for speed or bandwidth while lowering or eliminating latency has paved the way for the ‘Evolution of Edge Computing’ to address the needs of the ‘always connected customer.’
Edge computing is evolving, spreading into various industry verticals and being deployed into a multitude of applications. At the core of edge compute demand is the quest to provide an enhanced user experience and to manage the related impact on revenue through operational efficiencies. As edge computing is touching every aspect of our daily lives, including businesses, enterprise and government establishments at local, national and global levels, the underlying and overlying technologies are also being developed rapidly.
Constantly evolving technology addresses the increased demands from Industry 4.0, IoT, high performance computing, 5G telecom, transportation segments with self-driving automobile navigation, connected vehicles, rooftop fly-ports and more. The related infrastructure is forced to adapt to the ever-changing technology demands as well, thus creating a parallel demand for associated solutions and services. Hence, the evolution of Industry 4.0 is taking all of us through this inflection point in the world of computing.
NC-ES Q: In order to take full advantage of this new approach, what does the industry need to accomplish? What technologies do we need to develop further to help us fully express the benefits of edge computing?
S-MR A: Edge computing doesn’t just comprise one or two industry technologies or areas of expertise. Rather, it requires a diverse range of expertise from sectors like IT, Mechanical, Electrical, Construction, Cabling, integration and more. Hence, it has become critical to recognize the need for a capable and flexible foundational ecosystem for edge computing infrastructure. It must be easily deployable and scalable at the point of data generation and simultaneously at the point of data consumption.
The primary challenge in developing such an ecosystem is meeting the evolving requirements of all the infrastructure needs and regulatory standards for several applications across divergent industries. The standards and regulations from one sector to the other are not sequential. Instead, they are often left to the interpretation of disparate individuals.
NC-ES Q: In what ways, then, are we shifting infrastructure to solve these discrepancies and cater to the needs of the edge’s unique ecosystem?
S-MR A: The micro and modular data centers are taking center stage to meet the growing edge infrastructure demand because of their unique design, architecture, ease of deployment, capabilities and several other factors.
NC-ES Q: Can you explain a bit more about these two types of infrastructure? What differentiates micro and modular facilities and how are they supporting the industry’s migration towards the end-user?
S-MR A: Micro data centers offer unique features for high-performance computing up to 80 to 100 kW / rack. These include built-in air-conditioning systems to cool the server racks, uninterruptible power supply, fire suppression, security camera, PDUs and e-access for physical security. Micro data centers with the capability to scale up as you grow are becoming the new norm.
On the other hand, modular data centers contain multiple micro data centers with in-built infrastructure in an all-weather container that is pre-equipped with communication and backup power. These ready-to-deploy modular data centers are installed at remote sites and locations to address bandwidth and latency issues by connecting to nearby regional data centers where needed, thereby enhancing the user experience. Also, such installations are at times deployed to mission critical operations.
As the compute moves out of on-premise clouds and from centralized connectivity architecture to decentralized or regionalized architecture, modular and micro data centers are playing a significant role in the transition by providing the techno-commercial solutions. Micro and modular data centers are at the forefront of the technology adoption and are positioned to be a commercially viable solution. The smaller footprint of micro and modular data centers makes them less capital intensive and ideal for future upgrades and developments, all while offering optimal operational efficiency.
NC-ES Q: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Manohar.
About New Continuum Data Centers
New Continuum Data Centers (“NCDC”) is a multi-tenant data center operator in the western Chicago suburbs. NCDC operates an 80,000 square foot, purpose-built, concurrently maintainable facility in West Chicago, IL. NCDC offers highly flexible wholesale and retail colocation services to enterprises and small businesses. New Continuum’s products range from basic colocation to private cages, private suites and secured data halls. Additionally, NCDC offers unique connectivity and peering solutions through its partnership with United IX (http://www.unitedix.net). New Continuum’s 2N power design can accommodate some of the highest density cabinet footprints, and with its efficient technologies and robust cooling infrastructure it can deliver leading edge PUEs. To learn more, please visit http://www.newcontinuum.net, or call 877-432-2656.