After years of focusing on consolidating a fragmented and inefficient collection of local and regional data centers into a strong core of centralized facilities, many organizations are now looking to drive processing, storage, and bandwidth closer to users to provide faster response to cloud-based applications and better manage the explosion of data being generated by people and devices. These “neighborhood” data centers represent the next wave in data center development for many organizations.
The need for these facilities extends from the largest data center developers, whose edge facilities are similar in scale to an enterprise data center, to distributed organizations with smaller edge facility requirements, such as banks and retailers. Regardless of size, organizations are seeking to support the edge with facilities that are easy to deploy and scale, are cost effective and highly reliable, and are inherently efficient and manageable. Here’s how they are doing it:
Reliability at any scale. In mid- and large-size data centers, three-phase, double conversion UPS systems are used to achieve the balance of efficiency, intelligence and reliability data center managers demand. The challenge with edge facilities is achieving a comparable level of power protection with smaller size units. Traditionally, these locations have been protected by less robust line interactive UPS systems; however, the neighborhood data center of the future requires a higher level of protection than line interactive units may be able to deliver. Criticality and capacity are both increasing and the environment at the edge may not be conducive to line interactive UPS units. For example, a line interactive UPS located close to elevators or building air conditioning units may need to go to battery to compensate for the regular power sags that can accompany the operation of large mechanical systems. That will drain battery life quickly and increase the likelihood that the UPS cannot support the critical load during an outage. Double-conversion UPS units can compensate for sags without going to battery, are available in sizes as small as 500VA and in configurations to match virtually every application. The increased initial cost of a double conversion UPS compared to a line interactive unit is usually more than offset by reduced maintenance costs and higher availability.
Standardized, repeatable system designs. When it comes to the edge, organizations need to think about growth both vertically and horizontally. It’s not just about deploying facilities that can scale to accommodate growth within a specific location, but also quickly deploying facilities in new locations. The largest data center developers, who are deploying edge facilities to deliver high-bandwidth content and social media services to users in a specific region, are using modular construction and integrated systems to decrease the time required to deploy new facilities. That same approach is available to users deploying smaller facilities in the form of integrated rack and row systems. At the row level, these systems combine high-efficiency thermal management, power protection, remote management, and physical security into a standalone enclosure that can operate in almost any environment, eliminating the need for expensive room modifications. Similar systems are available on the rack level for locations with smaller IT needs. Standardized system designs, whether built on integrated aisle, row or rack configurations, simplify design and deployment of edge facilities.
- Remote management. In cases where edge facilities are operating in environments without dedicated IT support, or are being managed as part of data center ecosystem comprising multiple facilities, out-of-band monitoring and management should be considered a must-have capability. Remote infrastructure monitoring provides round-the-clock visibility into system status, environmental conditions and physical security and can support holistic management of edge facilities through a DCIM platform. Serial consoles and KVM switches with remote management capabilities provide similar capabilities for IT equipment, enabling centralized management of remote servers.
With an expected doubling in the amount of data being generated every two years for the foreseeable future, a reliable, scalable edge is becoming essential for organizations delivering services to remote users and seeking to leverage the Internet of Things to increase productivity and reduce downtime. With compact, high-availability power protection, fully integrated systems, and easy-to-use remote management, organizations have the technologies and tools available today to put processing, storage and bandwidth exactly where it is now needed.