Networks Europe: What Does Edge Computing Mean For Data Centres?

Our data-driven world is becoming increasingly dependent on the real-time processing edge computing provides. What does this mean for the traditional data centre and even cloud storage?

Global research giant Gartner predicts there’ll be more than 50 billion ‘Internet of Things’ devices throughout the world by 2020. Here in the UK alone, there’ll be 600 million-plus gadgets within the next five years.

Networks Europe magazine logo, white backgroundSuch apps and devices dominate our lives, where on a personal level browsing social media or constantly checking our smartphones, or in the professional realm where advances such as automation, machine learning, and smart grids are revolutionising industry.

But to truly capitalise on this transformative tech, real-time processing is a must. And this is a key criteria where both enterprise data centres and cloud computing often come up short.

Transferring data from sensors to a centralised location, processing it, then sending it back to the original source simply doesn’t satisfy the need for instant analysis and decisions. Every millisecond counts in environments such as factories or industries such as banking and e-commerce.

We speak to Networks Europe magazine about the apparent solution to this problem. The rise of edge processing and computing.

Leo Craig Riello UPS quote - internet of things devices increase data centre demands
EDGING CLOSER: Our increasingly data-driven world relies on the real-time processing that only edge computing can truly provide

What Is Edge Computing?

Fundamentally, edge computing brings the computer processing nearer to where data is generated in the first place.

It ensures low latency so minimal delays, while it drastically reduces internet bandwidth use by cutting the amount of information needing to be sent to be processed. Another advantage of edge computing is it enables more information to be stored locally, minimising cybersecurity risks.

Edge computing facilities need to carry out all the standard functions you’ll find in an enterprise data centre. But it needs to do it in a far more compact footprint. Sometimes it’s called upon in restricted spaces such as a car park or outside a factory building.

It should come as little surprise that edge computing has coincided with the rise of modular data centres. These pre-built facilities are often manufactured inside sturdy and secure steel shipping containers, which protect all the components from wind, rain, fire, and vandalism.

Whether modular or containerised, these data centres include standard 19-inch server cabinets, uninterruptible power supplies and power distribution units, air conditioning units and more. Basically all the technologies you’d find in any hyperscale or colocation facility.

Because of the space restrictions inside a modular data centre, when it comes to critical power protection, a modular UPS or a smaller rack-mount unit such as a Sentinel Dual makes sense.

These types of UPS systems deliver the necessary power density and efficiency in the small footprint that’s essential for edge computing.

White hand holding smartphone against backdrop of a city at sunset with globe superimposed to represent interconnected internet age world
ESSENTIAL EDGE: Our data-driven society is dependent on low latency processing

What Does Edge Computing Mean For Data Centres?

With the next generation of 5G internet on the horizon, edge computing will be a key player in delivering lightning-fast 10GB/s download speeds.

Just a tenth of data is currently processed outside an enterprise data centre or the cloud. But this will rocket to 75% by 2022 as edge processing becomes the norm, rather than the exception.

But this doesn’t necessarily spell the end for other forms of storage. Real-time processing will happen at the edge. But there’s still a role for centralised data centres for less time-critical tasks. For example, batch information used in wider trend analysis will still be processed centrally.

Learn more about the impact of edge computing in the latest edition of Networks Europe magazine