Micro Data Centers Evolve to Fit New Business Requirements of Edge Computing

Rack PDUs in office environment

Recent breakthroughs in technology have expanded the possibilities for where data are gathered, processed, stored, and analyzed. As a result, IT staff and their business counterparts can now decide whether their applications are more efficient residing in the cloud, within a traditional data center, or on the network edge. For the first time, the nature of applications is determining where they would run best. Increasingly, micro data centers continue to be the technology of choice to manage the growing computing needs across many edge computing environments.

Those edge computing requirements are rapidly growing. Worldwide spending on edge computing is expected to reach $176 billion in 2022[1], increasing 14.8% over 2021, and projected to hit $274 billion in 2025[2]. Enterprise and service provider spending on hardware, software, and services for edge computing solutions is forecast to sustain this pace of growth.

The role of micro data centers at the edge

In some environments, edge computing enabled by micro data centers helps business organizations reduce the need for transmitting data back and forth across networks, thereby reducing bandwidth costs. Some applications, where latency is an issue, may not be suited for working efficiently in cloud environments. In other situations where unstable network connections cause too much remote location downtime, unplanned downtime can also be avoided. For example, in remote retail store locations where customers expect on-demand service, a disruption in the cloud network can negatively impact everything from sales to security to customer experience. Edge computing can keep these businesses up and generating revenue consistently, thereby helping deliver a great customer experience.

In addition, with the explosive growth of digital transformation at the edge, businesses are shifting strategies to drive collaboration and reimagine work processes. The adoption of key technologies such as 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) applications is increasing rapidly. This demand is driven by the ability of 5G networks to support IoT devices with faster connectivity to enhance operations and reduce latency. Yet, 5G integration requires a collaborative effort and solutions between IT, lines of business, cybersecurity, mobile providers, and strategic partners. One solution is a micro data center, which can be used to build the infrastructure needed to support 5G technology.

Such a use case makes a strong argument in favor of edge computing when local management is placed in a more flexible position for maintaining a higher degree of business continuity. However, as the interest in edge computing grows and expands, businesses need to decide what kind of systems best support these environments. In addition, who will support these systems once they are installed? After all, in many locations such as retail outlets, banks, small offices, and manufacturing sites, there is typically no IT staff on hand to offer data center expertise and support.

EcoStruxure Micro Data Centers – a closer look

Perhaps the most important advantage of a micro data center is its flexibility to be used in a wide variety of applications. Individual micro data center solutions can be leveraged to simplify solving core business challenges – whether that is quick and easily repeatable deployments, resiliency, or a need for local compute without local IT support.

Micro data centers are particularly suited for edge computing environments where IT teams are often faced with unique challenges. For example, many edge applications need to be deployed in stores, schools, banks, and similar sites, which often don’t have spaces designed to host edge applications. These sites might offer space in a supply closet or a small office, which isn’t usually ideal for critical IT infrastructure. In addition to space constraints, environmental factors from dust and possible water leakages to wide temperature and humidity ranges come into play. Lastly, IT teams need to deploy compute solutions that comply with sound level requirements to keep noise from being disruptive to employees and customers. Micro data centers address these issues with form factors suitable for available space limitations, enclosures to protect against dust and water threats, and noise suppression features.

Choosing a micro data center

So how can IT professionals responsible for edge computing installations evaluate various micro data center choices? First, it is crucial to look for micro data center offerings that provide a pre-configured, pre-tested, pre-integrated solution combining hyperconverged computing, operations software, environmental monitoring, power distribution, and power protection, all in a secure rack.

There is also the practical issue of space considerations at deployment sites. Many micro data center options require very little physical space for the system and minimal time to configure it. Also, as many remote locations may not have IT staff on-site, a simpler plug-and-play micro data center solution may be needed. This option only requires local sites to provide a power and communications connection to turn on the system and begin running applications and processing local data. With add-on software like Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxureTM IT Expert, staff can remotely monitor and maintain critical power, cooling, and environmental equipment to optimize performance and keep systems running continuously.

Discover how micro data centers enable edge computing 

Want to learn more about how micro data centers can help deliver business continuity and innovation at every level? Discover how micro data center solutions can increase reliability and address the needs of edge computing requirements.

 

[1] IDC, New IDC Spending Guide Forecasts Double-Digit Growth for Investments in Edge Computing, Press Release, January 13, 2022.

[2] Ibid

Previously published on January 16, 2019. Updated on August 29, 2022.

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