Why are so many opting for edge data centers?
The data center industry has been talking a lot about edge computing and edge data centers, but like all hot new technology trends, defining what we mean by these terms is critical to moving from theoretical jargon to actionable change that can be implemented in the real world.
What is an edge data center and why are they everywhere?
Edge computing refers to the process of decentralizing computer services from huge data centers in remote locations. With edge computing strategies, data companies move their data - and the hardware that houses and moves it - closer to both the source of the data as well as its intended destination: the users. The reason for doing so is that this process decreases latency by allowing more data to move faster between servers.
Edge data centers, therefore, are specific types of data center locations that:
- First, are not located in remote, often rural areas but instead often in highly urban areas centered around population hubs or hubs of businesses and technology workers
- Second, have small footprints and typically leverage existing infrastructure.
So technology companies, instead of commissioning massive greenfield data center construction projects in far-flung locales, are instead looking to purchase or rent real estate in major urban areas and retro-fit it to meet the needs of a data center.
Challenges of build-outs in edge data centers
Why do opt for retrofitting existing buildings in populated areas for the unique needs of a data center environment in the first place?
There is simply so much more data being created and consumed than there used to be. SaaS tools are instrumental to every business and consumers are video chatting on their phones while they wait for food or transportation - everywhere. In order to deliver software functionality at the speed required, software companies need to push their data out closer to where their software is being used. In order to facilitate the user experience and speed that consumers need and expect, data processing can’t afford to wait to send data across vast geographic distances.
While giant, greenfield data center builds are challenging in their own way, edge data center build outs are simply tricker. There’s a limited footprint to work with, the facilities for the building are of course not designed with server and networking airflow management, power supply, or cooling requirements in mind.
Edge data centers are here to stay
Much has been written about the history of edge computing and the fascinating way companies are leveraging very old infrastructure and technology. The fact is edge computing isn’t a trend or a fad - it’s going to be an integral part of any software company’s business plan and needs to be planned for both by the companies themselves and the colocation companies that service them.
It’s not about edge replacing cloud - the latest innovation in IT and technology doesn’t need to automatically replace what came before it. Edge computing and edge data centers are complementary strategies to housing, managing, and delivering data. Edge is simply new to the data center industry and requires colocators and data center teams adjust planning, development, and building strategies to accommodate the unique requirements of edge data centers.
Edge data centers, being smaller, can be planned and built out faster than giant new enterprise data centers - but only as fast as the suppliers you work with for the hardware and equipment. In addition, edge data centre build outs are each unique; no best practice guide can be applied uniformly to each new location. Cabinet and containment systems, as well as networking and wiring solutions, that can be customizable and are, ideally, modular work best in these types of environments.