As one of the key drivers for data centre demand, edge computing has emerged as a major trend around the world. Due to its proximity to end-users or the sources of data to be processed, edge computing offers various advantages in terms of performance, data sovereignty and support for a new wave of usage scenarios.
The Importance of Reliability
Just as enterprise data centres provided a strong foundation for business growth due to their rock-solid reliability, an edge data centre must stay up and running for businesses to utilise its full value. This is not a trivial challenge, considering that these systems are typically deployed at remote locations far from IT support. Moreover, the operational complexity of data centres is constantly increasing to support modern IT demands such as fluid deployments and unpredictable workloads.
It is worth noting that traditional data centres and cloud deployments are unlikely to be replaced anytime soon. This means the issue is not limited to managing edge centres, but extends to expanding traditional data centre management responsibilities to include edge data centres, notes Dave Johnson of Schneider Electric in a blog post.
And as organisations scramble to deploy new edge facilities, the question hence revolves around how enterprises can leverage their existing expertise and capabilities in centralised data centres to maintain these new, remote environments for reliable operations.
Computing At The Edge
To underscore the difference between an edge environment with a traditional colocation data centre, consider some possible use cases for an edge deployment. This could range from a hospital bed or operating room to control specialist equipment, a factory floor to manage machinery and robots, or at an offshore oil rig with limited connectivity.
Unlike the highly-secured and staid environments of a traditional data centre, edge locations may run the gamut of different ambient temperatures, high humidity, or be subjected to dust, vibrations and other harsh conditions. Crucially, workers in these environments are unlikely to possess the skill sets to work with IT equipment, much less manage a critical data centre environment.
Without increasing the IT headcount or spending excessively on external contractors in different parts of the world, how can enterprises ensure that edge data centres are properly and reliably maintained? Fortunately, new technological innovations have made it possible to more easily support edge deployments.
Simplified Edge Data Centre
One example of this technology would undoubtedly be the micro data centre. This is a pre-packaged solution that incorporates processing, storage, power and cooling, and can be shipped to users pre-configured, pre-tested and assembled. This means that the solution can be put to work once delivered and plugged in, dramatically reducing the workload and travelling that IT personnel must undertake, allowing them to spend more time on tasks that matter.
In addition, solutions such as Schneider Electric’s cloud-based EcoStruxure IT infrastructure management software enables remote administrators to monitor critical parameters of their micro data centre such as temperature, humidity and battery runtime of installed uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units. Other software tools can offer predictive maintenance alerts, by using analytics to accurately identify components that are likely to fail.
Together, these hardware and software solutions can help to increase the overall availability of both enterprise data centre systems and edge data centres deployed at remote locations.