Building a new edge data center: considerations for management and operations

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Building a new edge data center: considerations for management and operations

The global market for edge data centers is expanding at a rate where the market is expected to reach $13.5 billion by 2024. The growth is primarily being driven by the improved ability of smaller, locally located data centers to reduce latency, intermittent connection errors as well as store and compute data close to the end-user. Larger market trends such as 5G, edge and cloud computing are driving growth as well. Recent figures from IDC points out that more than half of new enterprise IT infrastructure will be at the edge by 2023.

These trends put hyper-scale cloud providers in a highly advantageous position, as they are ideally placed to serve a wide range of technical needs with centralized, cloud-hosted management complemented by a host of common cloud and edge capabilities for edge computing. Recent data estimates suggest that by 2023, 20% of all edge computing platforms is likely to be delivered and managed by hyper-scale cloud providers.

For effective planning and management of an edge data center, there are several questions to consider whether a company is going to build their own facility or lease space from a third party.

Pertinent questions before developing an edge data center

Is your data center capable of providing ample Local User Service?

By their very definition, edge data centers need to be located close to end users. It is possible to remotely manage such data centers with only a handful of on-ground staff, but they should still be an important part of the local network. This is important to keep in mind as most existing edge data centers are located in tier-2 markets that don’t have easy access to larger colocation facilities. With nearly one-third of all traffic projected to make use of edge data centers and IoT devices in order to circumvent the core by 2022 (Cisco), it is crucial for your edge data center to not just be located close to end users but also to incorporate enough of the Internet to be considered a part of the network edge.

Is your data center an effective part of a larger network?

Despite providing a wide range of services, edge data centers typically connect back to a larger data center deployment capable of hosting cloud resources and centralized data processing such as machine learning or analytics. They could even be connected to multiple additional edge data centers responsible, that actually enhances the possibility of disruption because of conflicting on-site processes and lack of coordination. In order to avoid downtime, it is important to check on the effectiveness of your data center’s connection to the larger network.

Is It Fast?

Speed is a critical feature of any edge data center. Most companies implement edge data centers in order to significantly reduce latency and speed up response times. Edge computing should prove to be faster in most situations, but it pays to remember that the best better performance is not a result of better cables or boosting power. The advantage of edge computing lies in its highly efficient architecture and it is likely to offer better performance for 5G networks once they are fully implemented. But you should not be paying a higher price in order to guarantee minimal latency. Edge’s promise lies in providing demonstrably better performance at a better value.

Checklist prior to building an edge data center

Having decided to build an edge data center, there is a basic checklist of items to cover prior to building a facility. The list of items includes:

  • Physical Location

This will cover both the physical side of the data center itself and the building that will house the data center. You need to specify your list of requirements from both and check if the selected site and building can accommodate both current and future needs of the data center.

  • Energy and Power Planning

Keeping your edge data center operational after decades will require careful power planning that can service both your current needs and future ones. You should always keep provisions for redundancies to meet your service provider’s requirements and plan based on that.

  • Heating and Cooling

This is often an overlooked aspect of edge data center planning. But Heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) can be critical to safely operating a data center and ensuring its longevity. Keep in mind that HVAC is likely to consume 50 percent of all power used by your data center. This is why you need to make HVAC optimally efficient as it is going to be a critical component of your OpEx.

  • Physical Infrastructure Layer

The physical layer of the edge data center needs to be carefully planned in order to optimize the benefits from cloud computing and software-defined networking/network function virtualization (SDN/NFV). Lifecycle of all SDN/NFV equipment is only about 2–3 years and you need to take both regular equipment purchase, installation and maintenance into account to support future technology and connectivity is essential.

The design and security of the data center is critical ensuring the longevity and operational efficiency of a facility. Consider working with a local IT Consulting firm to help you with guaranteeing the effectiveness of the design and security of your upcoming edge data center.

About the author

Sam Goh is the former President of ActiveCo Technology Management, an IT Consulting Vancouver company. Sam comes from an operational perspective; his tenure at ActiveCo emphasizes working with customers to closely understand their business plans and to successfully incorporate the technology component to those plans.

DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review (EdgeIR.com). 

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