Edge Computing: The Disruption of Data Center Management


The data center sector has been transformed over the last ten years. In a decade, we’ve seen mass migration into the centralized architecture of cloud computing, and now a swing towards decentralization as edge computing starts to grow. According to the experts of Schneider Electric, another wave of complexity will be hitting us soon.

What does edge computing really mean?

Edge computing is a way to streamline the flow of traffic from internet of things (IoT) devices and provide real-time local data analysis. Edge computing allows data produced by IoT devices to be processed closer to where they are created, instead of sending them across long routes to data centers or the cloud. Doing this computing closer to the edge of the network lets companies analyze important data in near real-time – a need of organizations across many industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunications and finance.

As research firm IDC says, edge computing is a mesh network of micro data centers that process or store critical data locally and push all received data to a central data center or cloud storage repository, in a footprint of less than 100 square feet.

Typically, this is done by the IoT devices transferring the data to a local device that includes compute, storage and network connectivity in a small form factor. Data is processed at the edge, and all or a portion of it is sent to the central processing or storage repository in a corporate data center, co-location facility or IaaS cloud.

How does it work in real life?

Let’s see an example of edge computing: There’s an oil rig in the ocean that has thousands of sensors producing large amounts of data, most of which could be inconsequential. Perhaps this data confirm systems are working properly. This data doesn’t necessarily need to be sent over a network as soon as it is produced, so instead the local edge computing system compiles the data and sends daily reports to a central data center or cloud for long-term storage. By only sending important data over the network, the edge computing system reduces the data traversing the network.

The emergence of this type of data handling represents a big shift from the way things were a decade ago. As edge comes of age, organizations may have hundreds of edge data centers to monitor and manage. It’s going to be a tremendous data center infrastructure management challenge to make sure that distributed IT facilities are secure.

A solution for the new era

Micro Data Center from APC by Schneider Electric makes it fast, easy and cost effective to design, procure and deploy the physical layer of IT systems at the network edge. Some industries are constantly changing and developing, so deployment speed, reliability and security are paramount.

Designed to allow IT equipment to be pre-installed by the customer, partner or integrator before shipment, it features complete data center physical infrastructure and management software in a single self-contained and secure enclosure that includes power distribution, UPS, cooling, software, and environmental monitoring. With the on-site ready arriving the customer significantly reduces installation time and, more important, cost.

The customizable, prefabricated modules are built to precise specifications in a controlled factory environment and can support IT needs in applications such as mining, oil and gas, industrial factories, military operations, and regions with high heat and humidity.

Micro Data Centers form a key part of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™ architecture; an open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture delivering enhanced value around safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity for customers.

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