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The Rise of Edge Data Centers

Here’s a look at how edge data centers work and why we need them now.

3 Min Read
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As the amount of data produced continues to grow, data centers need faster and smarter ways to process all that information. Data centers are embracing the idea of edge computing as a solution because it’s more efficient to process data closer to the source than sending it to and from the cloud. Edge computing works by placing network and compute resources physically nearer to the areas they serve to cut down on latency. These regional data centers have become known as edge data centers. Let’s take a closer look at how edge data centers work and why we need them.

What are edge data centers?
Let’s get a little more specific about what an edge data center is. First, they’re smaller facilities than the sprawling, mega data centers that are becoming so common. They’re built geographically close to the communities they serve (to reduce latency), and edge data centers usually interface with a larger data center or many different data centers. By creating this sort of regional data center model, critical data can be transferred and processed much faster, which improves the end user experience.

Why are edge data centers necessary?
One of the words you’ll always hear when edge computing is mentioned is latency. Latency is simply the time it takes data to travel from one point to another. And while latency isn’t a new issue confronting data centers, it’s more of a concern thanks to more data being pushed over network infrastructures than ever before. The proliferation of IoT devices, big data, cloud services and non-stop video streaming means that latency is simply unacceptable for end users. Edge data centers have proven to be an effective, efficient way for service providers to reliably deliver services and meet customer demands.

The cost to move data to and from the cloud can add up quick, as can the cost to store that data in the cloud. The local nature of edge data centers can dramatically reduce these costs, potentially saving companies huge amounts off their bottom line. Compliance is another reason edge data centers are gaining in popularity. By storing and processing data locally with edge computing, that data is potentially more secure and thus compliant with initiatives like GDPR, or even self-compliance for companies with higher data transit standards.

Edge computing use cases
While it’s easy to talk generally about how micro data centers and edge computing are being used, here are a few specific real-world use cases:

  • Telehealth: Instant access to patient data is now possible thanks to edge computing and personal health devices/fitness bands.

  • Augmented reality: Retailers are beginning to offer augmented reality shopping experiences, powered by real-time data processing.

  • Driverless cars: Faster data collection, processing and sharing is on the cutting edge of creating a safer, autonomous driving experience.

  • Gaming: Online multiplayer games are simply not possible without a way to mitigate latency and offer higher bandwidth.

  • Data delivery: Storing critical content at the network edge means it gets to end users faster than ever before.

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