Edge data centers are smaller, decentralized, remotely distributed network nodes that provide compute and storage resources closer to where data is being generated and used.
These data centers operate as part of a distributed computing topology in which information is processed closer to “the edge” of networks, where it is produced and consumed by users. As such, edge data centers typically represent one small part of a larger, complex network including a central enterprise data center.
Edge computing was designed to reduce bandwidth costs associated with moving raw data from its point of origin to an enterprise data center. The virtual proximity created by edge computing offers reduced latency, optimized bandwidth, and improved performance.
Edge data centers are increasingly being used to support low-latency applications requiring the use of real-time data processing, like those used by autonomous vehicles or multi-camera video analytics.
There are several key characteristics shared by edge data centers that are helpful in understanding edge systems.
Edge data centers are local to the data being stored, processed, or analyzed. While edge data centers are most often connected to larger, regional and cloud data centers, the individual edge nodes do not need to route traffic to these locations.
Edge data centers are smaller than traditional data centers. While they contain many of the same components of a traditional data center, the actual footprint is significantly smaller.
Edge data centers operate as components of a larger deployment. Rarely are edge components not connected to a central enterprise data center. While edge modules can perform many of the actions of a larger data center, they do not replace the need for a traditional enterprise data center.
Effective management of edge data centers requires a combination of multiple remote management tools, analytic capabilities, and databases.
The remote nature of edge data centers presents many challenges specific to edge data center management, including monitoring data center health across multiple locations, directing on-premises technicians and contractors, and managing assets and their connections across an entire data center deployment.
The utilization of data center infrastructure management software is essential to providing data center managers with systems to view and adjust assets, power, connectivity, cooling, and security across multiple locations. This software is vital in aiding data center managers in their goal of reducing latency while maintaining availability and uptime.
Edge data centers offer users several significant benefits and useful advantages over other types of data centers.
Technological advances, and the corresponding growing demands of big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud and streaming services, have created a massive need for real-time, anywhere access to data and applications capable of functioning with minimal to no latency.
Latency issues continue to be one of the greatest hindrances to application performance. And with more devices than ever requiring the transmission of more data than ever, the risk of slowed performance remains paramount.
The virtual proximity of edge data centers offers an increasingly cost-effective method of providing users with more responsive processing, smoother operations, and improved functionality.
Rather than relying on a centralized facility to handle the processing of data necessitated by these services, edge computing hardware and services provide a local source of processing and storage that results in significantly faster response times.
Referred to as edge gateways or devices, these systems can process data and then send only relevant data back to the device in case of real-time application needs, or back through the cloud to a central data center. With central data centers often located thousands of miles away from users, the transfer of data back and forth between centers can create unavoidable latency.
By processing data locally, edge data centers are able to significantly lower the volume of traffic requiring transmission across networks. Greater bandwidth availability across a user’s network can improve overall performance while reducing the cost of data transmission and routing.
Reduced cost of bandwidth alone can represent significant savings for businesses reliant on complex applications.
An improved ability to store and process data enables more efficient, real-time applications whose performance is critical to companies. Faster processing times mean faster applications.
Edge data centers can enhance security by reducing the amount of sensitive data necessary to be transmitted, as well as limiting the amount of data stored in individual locations. Broader network vulnerabilities can also be more easily responded to by ring-fencing compromised areas.
If you run a business dependent on low latency times for your applications and data, edge data centers can offer significant benefits. Localized storage and processing capabilities mean you can say goodbye to costs associated with maintaining high bandwidths. Forego the costs of building and maintaining your own data center and let the virtualized solutions of edge data centers provide your applications everything they could need, locally.