What are Edge Data Centers? Edge Computing

Edge computing is the hottest trend these days, yet many people do not know its basic definition. Ask five different people, and you will have five different definitions. This article will be your complete edge data center guide. We will cover its basics, its primary types and advantages.  

What Are Edge Data Centers?

Edge data centers are smaller and decentralized facilities. Their basic function is to provide computing and storage services. However, this unique feature is that they make things easier by offering these services near the location where data will be generated.  That location edge data centers use for computer and storage is much nearer than regional and cloud data centers. Hence, new applications perform better since they can optimize the bandwidth and reduce latency.

These facilities are equipped with power and cooling infrastructure. You can put it simply this way. Basic function of these data centers is to store, place, and process the data around the user’s location. 

You either employ data centers as standalone facilities or in many different environments. You can, for example, use them in the base of cell towers, and on-premises enterprises. Two more examples are telecommunications central offices, and cable headends.

Hence, the main philosophy that works beneath edge data centers is to minimize the distance between source data and computing as much as possible. 

Advantages of Moving Data Centers To Edge

Here are the four basic perks you enjoy when you move data centers to the edge. 

  • Latency

The time duration between sending a piece of information and its response is called latency. You get lower latency and faster response. When you place the computer and storage services close to the end users. Thus the data packet does not need to travel a long distance anymore. Also, the number of network hops also reduces. It reduces the likelihood of coming across a transmission path where data transfer is impaired.

Edge computing is what allows 5G to fulfill its promises on latency and bandwidth. The credit goes to decentralization. There is no centralized data point where all packets have to travel to. All applications like augmented reality, cloud gaming, and IoT have lower latency requirements and higher bandwidth needs. So, to enjoy the 5G technology at fullest, make sure you have sufficient numbers of data centers around.

  • Bandwidth

Processing data at local level means that your central server has to send and receive lower traffic volumes. When greater bandwidth becomes available across the broader network, it boosts the overall performance.
  • Operating Cost

Lesser traffic volumes means less data transmission costs. Moreover it is also beneficial for applications that require high bandwidth. Edge data centers move computer and storage close to end users.  Thus, the number of necessary high-cost circuits and interconnection hubs that go back to regional data centers or cloud data centers, decreases. 
  • Security

Edge data centers strengthen the security in three brilliant ways. First of all, it reduces the amount of sensitive data you have to transmit. The second great thing it does, goes to decentralized architecture. This architecture limits the amount of data you store at any individual location. Last but not the least, in many cases, breaches are ring-fenced to the portion of the network that they compromise. So, edge data centers decrease the broader network vulnerabilities.

Different Types of Edge Data Centers?

The number of primary categories of edge data centers is as low as two. The name of the first type is metro edge facilities you will find  in suburban markets. The name of the other one is mobile edge facility. It is commonly located in C-RAN hubs and at the base of cell towers. Speaking in broader terms, facilities at C-RAN hubs are the aggregation edge, and facilities at the base of cell towers are the access edge.

Hub & Spoke Architecture of Metro Edge Data Centers

Hub: You can find Metro edge data centers in the suburban market. They allow the customer to access connectivity services from three places. Those are telecommunications carriers, internet service providers (ISPs), and cloud service providers.

Spoke: Spokes are the mobile edge data centers. They operate in an underserved, and local market. The function of Spoke is to offer colocation services for a customer’s IT infrastructure. They connect with larger metro edge data centers via fiber.

Metro Edge Data Centers (Suburban Markets)

Metro edge data centers have almost five plus megawatts of power capacity and 50,000+ sq feet. You can find them in suburban (Tier II/III) markets. Such data centers serve customer deployments within the range of 250 kilowatts to 3 megawatts of power capacity. You can supply it to almost 25 to 100 cabinets. 

Metro edge data centers facilitate a lot of things. Some of them are following:

  • Aggregation
  • Content Delivery Networks
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies

Some major names utilizing metro edge data centers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Apple, Meta Platforms (Facebook), Netflix, and Salesforce. 

Mobile Edge Data Centers (Cell Towers and C-RAN Hubs)

Mobile edge data centers comprise 50 to 150+ kilowatts of power capacity across hundreds of square feet per site.

Aggregation Edge

The aggregation edge is found at C-RAN (cloud-Radio Access Network) hubs. Hubs play the role of aggregation point for multiple radio communication equipment that support cellular networks. C-RAN hubs are at the distance to multiple cell towers. So we can use one facility for colocation of several baseband units (BBUs).  

In general, C-RAN hubs decrease latency and help applications perform better. They shift the compute somewhere near the end users of the wireless carrier.

Access Edge

You can find the access edge at the base of the cell towers. Often they take the form of container-like modular structure that we refer to as micro edge data centers. 

What is a Micro Edge Data Center?

Micro edge data centers are fabricated and moved to locations with best power and connectivity. You can place these facilities at office buildings, retailers,

stadiums/arenas, universities, parking lots, and the intersection of major fiber routes. The bases of cell towers are the major locations where micro edge data centers are deployed.

Best Advantages of Edge Data Centers

  1.  Latency reduces when you use an edge data center. It is very convenient to send data to a local point of presence. Sending it to a hyperscale cloud provider’s data center is much more difficult, on the other hand. 
  2. You need lesser bandwidth and that also leads to cost reduction.  
  3. Your requirements for larger server resources also decrease. 
  4. Scalability is also one of the supreme benefits of edge data centers. You can expand the network as per your needs. 

    Picking up the right edge infrastructure for your organization is easy only when you understand your requirements. You should have a solid grip on your data types. You should know how critical your data and how big your data is. 

    Also, it is important not to confuse cloud computing with edge computing. The edge works on the time sensitive data, whereas the cloud works on data which is not time-driven. 

    Where Should You Place Your Edge Data Center?

    It should be such an internet exchange point or physical location where a lot of different network carriers connect. These days, companies are trying different ways to to implement this idea. Some day, in the near future, they may deploy “micro data centers”. They would be small enough to fit on the desk of your company's physical location.

    Will Edge Computing Replace Cloud Computing

    Increasing fame of the edge makes some people think that the end of cloud computing is near. But, it is not so. We do not have any proving analytical framework. IT vendors and businessmen have to face a lot of challenges today. And, edge computing does not have a solution to all of them. Cloud computing will still be the part of the IT infrastructure of many organizations. 

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