What is an Edge Data Center?
March 04, 2019

What is an Edge Data Center

New applications driven by AI and Machine Learning are pushing the limits of the internet as we know it. By moving data centers and compute to the edge or more regional, we are making the distance shorter between the data and the end user. Edge data centers are used to speed up web page downloads, stream content, and support Internet of Things (IoT) networks. Edge data centers can also “go green” and save energy which could have big implications for the environment as well as the cost to maintain/operate data centers at the edge.

  • Currently, around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. By 2022, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 50%.
  • Smartphone traffic, a leading factor in edge computing, will exceed PC traffic by 2021.

What are Edge Data Centers?

In general, edge data centers are smaller facilities that extend the edge of the network to deliver cloud computing resources and cached streaming content to local end users. Typically, they connect back to a larger data center, sometimes even multiple data centers. The goal of Edge Computing is to allow an organization to process data and services as close to the end-user as possible to reduce latency and improve the customer experience.

  • One definition is “a place that connects at least 80 percent of the internet’s content with at least 50 percent of all broadband users in a metro, in theory, if you haven’t done this you haven’t technically moved “the edge” of the internet”.

Where are they used?

Edge data centers are used in retail outlets, distribution centers, factories, and offices to deliver content, make computers faster, and enable IoT.

  • Urban areas, becoming known as Smart Cities, are becoming information gathering centers. Everything from traffic patterns to utility usage data is collected by sensors and stored using edge computing.
  • Banking institutions are utilizing edge computing and apps to create new and more convenient services to their customers.
  • Three companies are responsible for moving “just shy of 75%” of traffic on the internet, they are: Google (read YouTube), Netflix, and Akamai, which operates the world’s largest CDN.
  • Due to the Internet’s new edge, metro-only traffic is growing twice as fast as long-haul traffic and now accounts for 62% of total IP traffic.
  • By 2020, it’s expected that there will be more than 5.6 billion smart sensors and connected IoT devices across the globe, generating over 5,000 zettabytes of data mostly on the edge.

Benefits of Edge Data Centers

Data centers at the edge of the last-mile network will allow the wired and wireless worlds to operate in tandem and will enable new classes of applications.

  • Retail: In order to stay competitive and amp up the shopper experience, technology like AR is being brought in. The lower latency of edge computing is a key player in this shift.
  • Industrial Automation: Machines that are able to sense and learn without programming will have extended operational efficiency with the help of edge computing.
  • Video Technology: With new features such as facial recognition and motion sensors, edge computing comes in to simplify the data shipping process.

The goal of edge computing is to process data and services as close to the end user as possible. It’s an architecture that allows the compute and content delivery process to happen within 10 milliseconds or less of the user. Edge data centers are continuing to push the edges all over the world by bringing data closer to users.

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