Preparing your edge computing site for a micro data center

Edge computing is becoming a popular way of addressing business needs, but there’s little information available when it comes to the practical guidance of how to prepare (or in IT speak, provision) a space (such as a closet, open office, factory, retail store, etc.)  for a micro data center. That’s why we wrote the following two white papers:

  1. White Paper 280, Practical Guide to Ensuring Availability at Edge Computing Sites
    This is the first paper you should read because it provides a checklist of things you should specify to improve the availability of your micro data center and the location in which you’re installing it.
  2. White Paper 288, Practical Guide to Preparing Edge Sites and Installing Micro Data Centers
    After you determine the availability improvements, this paper guides you through the practical things you can do to prepare edge sites for delivery and installation of micro data centers.

There are various reasons why companies may be investing in a micro data center. Sometimes their antiquated IT solution has caused many downtime events, or perhaps their servers lack the processing speed to support their latest applications. Whatever the reason, if you’re upgrading your IT stack, it may be the perfect time to upgrade the physical space where it’s going.

How much availability do you need?

If this is a good description of where you are in your process, here are a few things to consider:

How much availability do you need? You need to ask this question across various systems that support your IT, including power, cooling, rack, physical security, fire protection, physical space, network connectivity, and management. We encourage you to print the checklists and check off all the improvements that you think make sense, while walking through and assessing the actual edge site.

For example, in the power checklist section, you’ll decide if you need a UPS. Maybe not, but if you do, you should ask yourself if you need redundant power feeds. If your servers have dual power supplies, should you plug both into the same UPS? (I think if you spend money on redundant power supplies, you should plug them into different sources (e.g. redundant UPS). Does your business location need a generator for long power outages? Does your IT equipment need lockable IEC power cords?

After the power checklist, move onto the availability practices (checklists) for cooling, rack, and so forth. The nice thing about these checklists is that the improvements are qualitatively ranked in order of highest priority. That is, relative to a baseline, we think the items towards the top of the list provide more availability for your money. Note that if you are using an integrator to assemble your micro data center, don’t forget to specify the best practices like the type of rack-mount UPS, cable management, rack PDU, type of rack, blanking panels, rack cameras, right or left door opening, etc.

Prepare your site to avoid surprises

Once you’ve specified the availability improvements you need, implement them in your site and in your micro data center. We assume that your integrator has taken care of the micro data center. In some cases, your integrator may offer services to prepare your site, but either way it should be done to ensure your project is finished on time, on budget, and with no surprises.

First thing to do is assess the site prior to delivery and installation. This includes assessing the room or space in which you will locate the micro data center, as well as assessing the delivery path. This will help you avoid things like ceiling clearance issues due to sprinkler heads (i.e. fire codes), or forgetting to specify a lift gate on the delivery truck (i.e. no loading dock).

You’ll also want to hire a contractor to install the required power circuits you specified in your availability checklist – power circuits for the micro data center, generator, and cooling. If the space will have its own cooling system (like a mini-split), you’ll need a contractor to install that prior to the micro data center’s arrival. You’ll also need to ensure the network connectivity is installed, along with any security cameras, physical security, painting, etc. Basically, make sure everything that needs to be done in the space is completed before bringing in the micro data center.

If the prior steps are all completed, the last steps in this project should go well. Those are, installing the micro data center, and starting it up. As they say, “the devil’s in the details.” For more information on how to prepare your edge sites for installation, read the white paper.

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