Do you realise how close to the edge you are? Edge computing, that is…
While the term is yet to become mainstream, Edge computing is here – and you and your business are likely already dependent on it. New applications are being utilised everywhere, from streaming services to AI, instant financial transactions and, very soon, the global rollout of 5G. And we’ve yet to mention the many other advances, such as self-driving vehicles, that are poised to become reality in the near future.
All of these technologies generate data - huge amounts of data on a never-before seen scale. The problem with this, apart from where to store it, is that much of this technology requires instantaneous data transfer. While data travels to and from traditional data centres pretty quickly, the more that’s being transferred the longer this takes. This delay is known as ‘latency’.
The amount of data now being generated is proving problematic for many systems, especially those that require information being accessible in real time. While latency might be measured in tens or hundredths of a second, such a delay causes major issues with the smooth running of many applications.
This seismic shift towards Edge computing is just one reason that the advantages of Micro Data Centres are set to become pivotal in everyday life.
Before we detail exactly what these benefits are, let’s first define what a Micro Data Centre is.
It’s a small, self-contained data storage unit that can run on AC or DC power
There is no need for external cooling as this is integrated into the unit.
It can be sited anywhere – from the remotest of unmanned locations to the entrance hall or conference room of any SME (they’re whisper-quiet, so no need to worry about operating noise).
An MDC offers the same components as a traditional data centre, such as connectivity, networking, remote management/monitoring and hardware. When deployed close to the action (AKA, the Edge), it becomes the backbone of this data storage. From here, data can either be directed back to the Edge installations from which it came and/or routed to a traditional data centre. From here it can be stored or analysed as needed or re-sent back to the necessary Edge systems.
The many advantages of MDCs
The following are 4 of the biggest benefits brought by MDCs.
Full Flexibility: MDCs can be sited anywhere. This includes locations where the temperature is inhospitable, uncontrolled/unmanned sites, or right at the heart of the action where people are working.
Standardisation across many sites: For organisations that need to ensure compatibility across multiple locations, siting an MDC at each allows easy standardisation across a company’s landscape.
Scalable & future-proof: Begin small, with a single unit and easily increase as and when needs dictate. MDCs can be stored along with other IT and power equipment, even if different power feeds and/or cooling methods are necessary.
Reducing costs: Increasing data storage needs historically demands considerable infrastructure funding. Traditional data centres take up valuable space and are costly to build and run. Using MDCs can eliminate these costs entirely.
Which industries are driving the need for micro data centres?
Industries that have already taken advantage of the power of MDCs include:
Farming. Where data is generated right at the source (weather, crop advancement, soil composition, etc). Smart Farming depends on data being collated smoothly and being instantly accessible. Thus, it requires an infrastructure that is able to cope and expand as necessary.
Mining. Remote mining locations benefit from data storage no matter how inhospitable or remote the atmosphere. As autonomous equipment use advances and becomes more commonplace in Smart Mines, MDCs will become even more indispensable.
Telecom.5G technology relies heavily on edge computing to enable smooth and fast connection. The use of edge data centres (located by telecom antennas) removes latency and saves money and space.
Retail. Optimising product availability, logistics and customer behaviours are just some of the data capture necessary for a successful retail operation. Edge computing in combination with MDCs provides the ability to easily standardise this across multiple sites.
Healthcare. Patient data must be evaluated, stored and shared in a wholly secure manner, yet easily accessible when needed. The use of MDCs allows medical and healthcare facilities to effectively manage this in an affordable and efficient manner.
Utilities. From smart meters to remote control operations, utility companies process vast amounts of data every second. Providers will benefit from reduced latency, lower costs and secure data. Customers will also benefit from an upgraded user-experience.
Manufacturing & industry. The IoT, Machine Learning and Industry 4.0 has transformed the landscape of industry. Machine sensors, smart factories and the now-commonplace use of robotics provides an ability to deliver instant information that improves every area of the supply chain.
Micro Data Centres are being hailed as the fastest growing segment of Edge computing. Embracing such technology now provides businesses at all levels – from SMEs to global corporations – with the opportunity to upscale services and products, standardise performance, improve customer satisfaction and increase data security – all whilst driving down costs and increasing the bottom line.
Have a look at our Case Studies to find out how we've already helped many customers in different industries across six continents. Alternatively, get in touch to book a free consultation to discuss your edge challenges.