Our society depends on data to thrive. From residential use to commercial applications, the speed, storage space, and computing power of our data systems are vital to our everyday lives. As our demand for faster, bigger, and better grows, so too must our ability to keep up with such demands. The latest innovation is referred to as edge computing.
In layman’s terms, edge computing focuses on processing data and providing services as close to the end user as possible; if achieved, it allows the computer and content delivery process to happen within 10 milliseconds (or less) of the user. When you consider how frustrated you get when your Internet is taking forever to load, the benefits are obvious.
Data centers rely on electronics racks, data cabinets, and a variety of server rack sizes to compute as quickly and as powerfully as they do; edge data centers are, on average, capable of producing power density levels of 6.7kW per rack, which is having a profound impact on the way centers are built and where they are deployed. The main force behind this new wave of technology has to do with connectivity and mobility: as 4G systems grow constrained and smartphone use continues to skyrocket, a new data system must be introduced. It’s estimated that traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for more than 63% of total IP traffic by the year 2021; we must be ready for it.
Obviously, this means more than just increasing server rack sizes and introducing more data racks. Since data is transferred more quickly when it’s close to the end users, location is crucial. Because it isn’t possible to build gigantic warehouses full of expensive equipment anywhere and everywhere, edge computing is evolving into four segments:
- Data centers in regional markets and smaller cities
- Micro data centers at telecom towers
- Onsite IT enclosures and appliances to support Internet Of Things workloads (also known as the “fog” layer)
- End-user devices, including everything from smart speakers to drones and autonomous cars
The keyword is flexibility; because edge computing specifically caters to high-performance or even latency-sensitive applications, it must be adaptable to the needs of specific businesses.