A User’s Guide: Edge Computing and Critical Power

by Stephen Vechy | Tue, Mar 16, 2021

edge-computingIf you run a data center, you live and die by whether you’re meeting service level objectives (SLOs). An outage may not only cost your center a staggering amount; it could also cost you your job—especially since operators said in a recent survey that 75% of outages were preventable. And just when you’ve got SLOs down to a science at your big data center, along comes a new development: edge computing.

What is edge computing?

In a shift from relying on monolithic data centers, some organizations are decentralizing their computing infrastructure and distributing it among smaller, remote facilities. The idea is to position critical IT infrastructure (e.g., servers, processors, data storage arrays, etc.) to the “edge” of an organization's footprint and closer and the people, systems, and remote devices they serve.

After a long period of data center centralization, the era of Big Data and digital transformation has pushed organizations to explore new, more efficient means of supporting their digital networks in an increasingly connected world.

That’s great for many reasons, but most companies are facing a learning curve as they get edge computing up and running. Let’s do a quick overview:

What are the advantages?

By positioning key computing assets closer to the operations they serve, organizations reduce latency, accelerate digital services, and cut costs in data center cooling and processing.

Edge computing is catching hold in many industries. Industrial players are establishing remote facilities with modular servers to support their manufacturing hubs. Telecommunication firms are using edge computing to reduce the routing points between customers and their streaming services. Retailers are relying on micro data centers to serve regions. Yet while the strategy is gaining popularity, it's not entirely foolproof.

What are the risks?

As with large centers, these critical data hubs must constantly maintain uptime. Even the briefest shutdown can lead to data loss and service outages, resulting in financial losses, operational delays, and an inability to respond to end users' needs.

Edge computing centers are compact and streamlined, which means a smaller number of staff members are on site. That usually means that there’s also less technical expertise.

You see the problem: uptime requirements are the same as the larger centers, but edge computing centers typically have fewer skilled resources on site. That’s a problem if things go awry.

That’s why it’s important to have critical power (also known as reserve power) in place to ensure you don’t experience downtime. But while the battery itself is important, what many don’t realize is operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting is equally important in maintaining uptime. And while edge computing teams may be specialists in IT and data, they often lack the critical power skillset.

Here's where outsourcing critical power has its advantages. Trusting a third-party to keep the power flowing not only ensures power supply is reliable and uninterrupted, it means that staff is freed up for other duties.

It has other advantages, as well. Power is simply expected to function 24/7. Outsourcing critical power enables more leeway in operational budgets and spares data center owners/managers the capital outlay for something that is considered a baseline, since power doesn't actually add value to operations. And this is to say nothing of the peace of mind that comes with knowing an edge computing center's power needs are being looked after by professionals.

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