Have you started using an edge datacenter yet?

PART 1

Organizations need to begin readying their architecture and infrastructure for the arrival of edge computing. This is said by Stijn Grove, managing director of the branch association Dutch Datacenter Association. “When 5G makes its debut in a few years, it will bring about massive changes. Business have to start preparing for these changes now.”

By edge computing we mean that the processing of data happens as close to the source as possible. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) generates so much data that in the near future it will become impossible to transfer these enormous amounts of data across networks. “Compare it to a busy highway on a rainy Monday morning. It gets congested.” With the help of micro datacenters close to 5G masts, data can be processed on the spot, so that only the essential data needs to be transported. These micro datacenters are called edge datacenters. “But also regional datacenters, such as that of The Datacenter Group, can function as edge datacenter. The aim is to facilitate the processing of data close to the source, in their case the customer.”

Processing data close to the source

Research by Equinix shows that for the next three years we will be transferring11 times as much data in Europe than we do now. Jerry Gopal, sales manager new business at The Datacenter Group, explains that not all that data needs to be processed within a central datacenter. “For example, a self-driving car generates a tremendous amount of data, but to control a self-driving car only a small percentage of that data is needed. In addition, it is important that the processing of that data happens fast, and thus has a low latency.” In such a situation local processing power is crucial. “It helps guarantee performance and a high availability.”

Grove agrees. “The need to process as much data as possible as close to the user as possible is rapidly growing.” The rise of IoT and the arrival of 5G will only increase that need, is his prediction. He refers to the Rotterdam harbor. “The sheer number of sensors collecting data there is enormous. It makes no sense to process that data in a datacenter on the other side of the country. You want to do that close to the source. That’s why regional datacenters will play a big part in this.” By keeping computing power close to the data source, space is created on the network. After all, less bandwidth is needed. Something that in turn contributes to lower latency.

Cost-efficient

Not entirely unimportant is the reduction in costs that edge datacenters can generate. Everyone uses the internet to send data to and from datacenters, and they are charged for the required bandwidth. Grove: “When a large part of information processing can happen in an edge datacenter, less data needs to travel through the network infrastructure, and that can make a big difference in costs.” He does not expect the emergence of micro datacenters to hinder the Dutch regional datacenters in any way. “Oh no, because all that processed data at the edge of the network will need to be collected in a central location at some point, in order to use it further. Regional datacenters will fulfill the role of this central platform.”

Preparing for the future

Edwin Kennedy, CCO of The Datacenter Group, indicates that they are already working to prepare themselves for edge computing. “Our current target is to have a minimum of 10 regional datacenters within the Netherlands. They will enable us to provide computing power, performance, and availability close to our customers, and thus close to the source of all data.”

In part 2 Edwin Kennedy will elaborate further on the future of edge computing.

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