According to the technology analyst, ABI Research, one of the most significant Internet of Things trends is the shifting balance from cloud computing to edge computing. The early days of the IoT were characterised by the critical role of cloud platforms supplying the intelligence to systems where devices were relatively unsophisticated. However, today a paradigm shift is underway as more intelligence is packed in at device level. At the same time, new architecture choices are allowing organizations deploying IoT technologies to enhance physical assets and processes in novel ways. Edge computing, says ABI, is what’s driving this shift.
At DatacenterDynamics, I caught up with Kevin Brown, Senior Vice President Innovation & CTO at Schneider Electric, and asked him how micro data center installations were being driven by edge computing applications. Check out our conversation here.
“I think it’s a very interesting time because we really believe micro data centers are very much an emerging technology,” said Brown. “It’s at the beginning of a trend and its part of the large context of edge computing. We see two major forms of edge computing in the world. The first uses a small embedded device that’s handling relatively light loads and resulting data remains at the edge. The second we refer to as a regional data center that’s going to look and feel a lot like a regular data centre we have today but it’s going to be closer to a fiber loop that’s closer to the edge of where the compute is happening.
“We see some customers coming to us with this emerging need and micro data center is the solution that we think fits many of the requirements for specific applications. The compute that they need is going to fit within one rack or maybe a few racks… optimised for the application. They’re going to want to be able to deploy that (IT) very easily and have all the security and everything built in. “
“Some of these micro data centers can look like a piece of office furniture, some of them are very industrialised solutions that are designed to go outside or in any rugged environment. So we have different forms of micro data centers that all ship in a box. They really are designed to allow someone, if their application demands it, to deploy data center compute anywhere – so we’re pretty excited about it. We’re trying to help lead this trend and we’re been working closely with many different types of customers to ensure they address the challenges that edge computing can create so that they can derive the business benefit that they seek.”
“One of the IT trends that has resulted from the adoption of Edge Computing has been the emergence of converged IT devices. These devices help meet the challenges of skills shortages for integration as well as making performance more predictable. I asked Brown whether he felt the introduction of micro data centers was a step towards a data centre appliance which could eventually comprise the IT equipment as well as the physical infrastructure?
Brown said, “In many ways micro data centers and some of the things that we’re talking about are an extension of a trend that’s been happening in the IT industry of whole converged IT, or hyper-converged – whatever term you want to use. But whereas there’s a combination of the storage and networking-to-compute all coming into one box, they’re also generally designed to run one application. The customer deploys the application that they want as a converged a solution.
“What we’re really trying to do is extend converged thinking into the physical infrastructure so that customers have the opportunity to deploy IT anywhere. We think it’s quite an effective solution when you can design and test components together and offer a fully converged solution. We’re working hard with other IT vendors to make sure that we’ve got solutions that are optimised to integrate seamlessly and ensure that what customers are deploying immediately meets their needs. This will be especially valuable to the growing number of those that are looking for solutions that can be easily launched and maintained on the edge.
The boundaries of where data is processed and stored seems to be ever expanding. IT professionals need to think through how they wish to handle each application and whether or not it makes sense to place it and its resulting data into a public cloud, private cloud or into a micro data center. If latency and security are issues, then edge computing and a micro data center combination should be seriously considered. Brown closed with this thought, “Working alongside thousands of customers we understand their challenges and are working hard to create solutions that will need their needs today and into the future.”
Want to learn more about edge computing trends? Take a look at this free white paper- “Drivers and Benefits of Edge Computing”.