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Is there a future for Edge Data Centres? 

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By Blue IoT Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Bob Sharon

For those of us that have been around I.T. for a long time, it wouldn’t take much to hark back to the old days when it all started from centralised computing, “The big mainframes”.

With the innovation of desktop PCs, we migrated to decentralised computing and then client server architectures appeared, thin clients, centralised computing again and so forth.

Network traffic will continue to change shape as new technologies place new demands on existing networks. This means that infrastructure and our approach to it must adapt accordingly. Edge data centres bring lower latency and higher bandwidth to towns and cities, away from the core’s of the networks. Therefore, increasing the number of edge data centres could be a way to meet these demands.

Below we look at some of the key challenges we face and how the edge can help. Gartner goes so far as to say that data centres are “Toast”. Gartner maintains that “80% of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centers by 2025, compared to just 10% today.” 

Joshua Au Head (Data Centre) Information Technology Shared Services :: Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore state, “We are living in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. That makes it all the harder to predict the future, but I think the stakeholders (including policy makers and consumers) would do well to be more deliberate and strategic to talk about how to shape the direction edge compute is headed”. 

Seagate Technology’s Rags Srinivasan says “The rise of edge computing could see the advent of a rapidly growing array of smaller data centers built closer to population centers.” 

The internet of things (IoT) ecosystem of devices that add sensors and other capabilities to objects continues to grow exponentially. Smart Cities which is predominantly based on IoT is forecast to be worth $2.57 Trillion by Grand View Research.

IoT is exploding all around us and will required multitudes of edge compute power while central compute power will be required to conduct the macro analytics across all the industry sectors. With everything from cars to temperature sensors sending data across the network, the requirements for processing this data close to the source are increasing exponentially. 

Edge data centres can will increase performance while reducing the amount of data transiting networks. Both colocation and managed service providers offers fast and scalable provision for IoT providers, which is one reason that new data centres with smaller footprints are opening up around the network edge. 

As the industry 4.0 expands and grows, Big Data and connectivity are becoming more crucial to business success. However, industrial sites are often located far from the network edge, making latency an issue for connected machinery and systems. 

Bevan Slattery – Founder & Executive Director of Superloop says that Edge data centres will proliferate and increase the points of interconnect and deliver services to the last mile very much like the telephone exchanges of old. 

Mark Thiele – Director Engineering, Edge Computing, Ericsson USA says that the Edge market, not just an example of edge computing or edge cloud is on the precipice of creating 10s of 1000s of new business models and use cases for technology.

We will need data centers that are like ATMs (Cash Machines) that are just stuck in the corner of a building and we’ll need data centers in Central Offices and in Cell Towers and we’ll even need more of the hyperscale data centers. Data center builders will need to consider the ramifications of greater numbers of smaller DCs distributed over a wide area and what that means to efficiency and automation. 

James Braunegg, Managing Director Micron 21 says “The nascent IoT and 5G space has garnered a lot of debate on the role of Data Centres with a proposed shift in compute away from central services to edge devices as data will need to be processed and produced locally. While the latter is true, we doubt we will see a shift but rather a complimentary increase in compute and data.

There are two major factors that need to considered that play to the strengths of Data Centres. Firstly, individual data sources provide limited information, and a lot of them produce noise. The aggregation and summation of disparate data sets provides information and meaning.

This requires a convergent point that logically sits at a Data Centre where hosted AI and machine learning tools leverage the economies of centralised resources and data throughput. Secondly, the plethora of different IoT standards and the pace of change creates a hotbed of security concerns. 

Edge Computing and data centres are indeed a hot topic and will remain so for some time to come. It is the opinion of the author that Edge data centres will indeed grow dramatically in the coming years while hyperscale will slow down in growth and will remain constant for a period of time. After that, well that will require another long article. Watch this space. 

Winner of the 2019 Australian IoT Pioneer Award 2019, Blue IoT is a disruptive smart buildings and cities integration services firm who delivers substantial reductions in energy, maintenance and operational costs while improving,safety, security and human comfort in buildings and facilities of all kinds. In a nutshell, Blue IoT delivers smart and intelligent buildings and cities utilising a systems thinking approach and disruptive technologies.



Categories: Guest column, IoT, telco

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