According to research firm Markets and Markets™, from 2017 through to 2022, edge computing will experience a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 35.4% (from $1.47 Billion US to $6.72 Billion US). Those in the business of distributing, configuring and selling IT solutions recognise that traditional IT offerings will need to be modified in order to accommodate these new edge computing environments. A number of factors influence the adaptation of edge computing in what are primarily remote locations. These include fast delivery and ease of installation, operation, and management of that hardware equipment such as server racks and software. These systems also need to perform in such a way as to address latency, bandwidth cost, and data location issues.
In order to propose edge solutions that address these needs, the equipment manufacturer, reseller, distributor and integrator communities are tasked with working closer together. In fact, recent collaborations have resulted in the integration and shipment of pre-programmed, pre-tested and pre-commissioned fully populated racks. Referred to as converged infrastructure solutions and often assembled in “rack and stack” fashion at reseller distributor integration centres, these systems provide edge computing environments with the advantages of faster deployment, ensured compatibility, security, and high reliability.
Solution Evaluation Process is Critical to Success
These pre-packaged integrated server rack systems are, in fact, micro data centres, and can weigh upwards of 2,000 pounds and could be valued at over 1 million dollars. Therefore, when ordering such systems, both benefits and risks should be evaluated. Listed below are three important steps to consider when shopping for converged infrastructure and integrated rack solutions to reliably deliver on edge computing requirements:
- Step 1: Consider the time savings – The alternative to ordering a pre-integrated, pre-tested rack solution is to receive all of the parts and pieces packaged separately. In this case, the IT solution provider will face travel to the customer site and hours of unpacking, assembly, testing and commissioning. If multiple racks of systems are shipped, the process could take weeks with overall rollout times being severely impacted. Systems integrators are better equipped to handle such tasks over a much shorter period of time at their integration centers and with a higher degree of reliability.
- Step 2: Investigate for proper equipment certifications – When key technology vendors certify the server rack enclosures that house their equipment, users are assured of a higher level of reliability of the gear they are receiving from either a vendor or one of their approved resellers. If non-certified components are inserted as part of the solution, the users run the risk of voided server vendor warranties.
- Step 3: Recognise the critical importance of rugged packaging for shipment – One of the significant risks of ordering a pre-integrated system is the possibility of a shipment that no longer functions upon arrival. Such a circumstance results in time-to-market delays and loss of competitive advantage. During shipment, the populated rack may be handled several times across multiple shipping hubs and must be resistant to shocks, vibrations, temperature changes and other variables that affect shipment and transportation.
For this reason, responsible providers perform preliminary International Transportation Safety testing (an industry standard for shipping packaged goods) of rack enclosures and packaging systems. Some vendors offer custom-made shock pallets that are ruggedised and enhanced with vibration absorbing foam so that the rack that is bolted on remains protected. The system integrator then uses the very same pallets to ship the rack to the end user once the enclosure is populated.
Explore Converged Infrastructure Solutions for Edge Computing Environments
Two of the early leaders in providing this new edge computing micro data centre technology are Cisco and APC by Schneider Electric. By working in partnership (Cisco provides its Unified Computing Systems IT hardware and software platform and APC provides the NetShelter SX rack, power, and cooling hardware and management software), the two companies help IT solution providers to achieve their goal of faster time-to-market with plug and play full-rack systems.