Fit for the Edge: Modular Data Centers

Jackie Pasierbowicz, Director of Sales and Marketing at TAS explores the dramatic rise and multiple markets demanding for edge computing and the benefits of a modular data center strategy.

modular data center

Jackie Pasierbowicz, Director of Sales and Marketing, TAS

Over the past few years, we have witnessed a dramatic growth in the Internet of Things (IoT). Fast-tracked the Covid-19 pandemic, the amount of data being produced has skyrocketed. Congruently, the need to compute, transmit, store, and analyze large quantities of data in real-time has also increased. This shift is driving a metamorphosis in edge technology, creating innovative, and strategic solutions for a multitude of industries, specific to the organization and the IT application.

What is edge computing? As a promising technology, it extends computing from cloud center to the edge of the network. Edge computing enables data to be processed closer to where it is needed. This technology moves data services and, in effect, data centers closer to the end-user. Edge computing has the advantage of low latency to achieve a shorter response time, as well as the potential to address the concerns of energy consumption, bandwidth burden and security.

Edge Competition

As the number of IoT devices grow and consumer expectations continue to prioritize speed and reliability, edge computing is changing how companies do business. Owners and operators will need to evaluate key characteristics to determine which investments should be made in edge technology and the data center solutions therein. Perhaps pre-Covid-19, edge computing was not on the radar for many. However, with the surging demand and increase tech capabilities, it is predicted that 90% of industrial enterprises will utilize edge computing by 2022, and by 2025, it is estimated that edge computing infrastructure revenues will hit $17.9 billion dollars. With the influx of competition at the edge, it’s advisable to come with a strategy. Ultimately, the solution should match the needs of the organization and/or the IT application. Such considerations could include data requirements and volume, bandwidth and connectivity, security, size or footprint constraints, and physical location of IoT devices, for example.

Importance of Proper Edge Architecture

For most businesses, real-time processing, and data analytics, accelerated by Covid-19, have become essential. Edge connectivity becomes more relevant considering that IoT devices have limited computing abilities and will increasingly rely on computational power, access to data storage, high bandwidth, and low latency connectivity. Local end users expect to experience improved media and security features with better performance at a lower cost. Because it uses an efficient architecture well suited for modulatory, a true edge data center can provide measurable results at a better cost and performance value.

To reach optimization, it is very important to fit the proper edge IoT architecture to the specific application. A well-implemented edge IoT architecture reduces a system’s overall latency, increasing performance for high-use applications and devices. It also reduces data and communication bottlenecks at architectural integration points between the IoT network and other services or parts of the network so it can function at the speed employees and customers demand today. A proper edge IoT architecture can also help organizations rapidly and efficiently deploy projects, reduce points of security vulnerability, and is scalable, leaving room for future growth.

Reduce Footprint. Go Modular. 

One way to achieve an optimal fit for an application at the edge is through modularity. For businesses hoping to take advantage of this growing IT infrastructure at the edge, the IT footprint is an important consideration. Smaller and more flexible, modularity offers a unique solution and opportunity for edge data centers. Modularity is not a new concept, but it does offer an advantage better suited for IT implementations such as increased efficiency, improved operations, and reduced costs. These benefits can be realized without a negative impact on key data center metrics such as functionality, scalability, reliability, and performance.

What is modularity for data centers? Modular components can be any type of data center that can be placed on a skid or platform, assembled in a factory environment, and shipped to a site for final set up and integration. Chiller systems, power distribution and UPS systems, air handlers, and data halls, for example, can all be shipped onsite saving construction time and built with improved efficiency. Another example of modularity is the IT data center comprised of the three critical components: cooling, power distribution, and the IT rack enclosure. These systems are often part of a solutions-based, tailored application, but can also be independent of application or environment and customized or tailored to a customer’s exact requirements. Either way, these modular elements can be designed and sized to meet any organization’s needs.

Modular benefits typically include: 

  • Saving time and money with factory assembly and quality control processes
  • Quick deployment with the proper planning
  • Cost-effective as you are matching the data center environment to the actual application requirements (an important reason to work with engineers who understand modular manufacturing)
  • Opportunities to eliminate overprovisioning of power and cooling
  • Flexibility in design to best fit a specific IT application
  • Flexible sizing of power, cooling, and rack sizing
  • Available in sizes and configurations to meet today’s edge requirements with the ability to scale for future growth

A Solution That Fits 

With demand for modular solutions on the rise and multiple markets demanding edge computing for specific deployments, there is a natural increase in competition. Vendors who offer end-to-end IT modularization may approach critical elements, such as power distribution or cooling capacity, differently.

In modular data centers, there is a tightly coupled relationship between power and cooling. Depending on the vendor’s approach, this could mean the difference in a perfect-fit or an average fit in the cooling approach. For this reason, an understanding of your application, its size, function, IT infrastructure, and load requirements is essential. Once these considerations are addressed, optimizing a modular solution for a particular application and/or IT environment is well underway. This way, data center owners and operators will better be able to enhance function and reduce capital expenses.

Bottom Line

It is critical to work with a modular solutions provider that is staffed with experienced engineers who understand the manufacturing process.

This article was written by Jackie Pasierbowicz, Director of Sales and Marketing at TAS a leading provider factory built of modular solutions. TAS leverages a proven, robust supply chain with expert design and project teams to deliver and complete any modular project. To learn more, contact TAS today.

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