FLEXENCLOSURE REFLEXIONS

Enabling edge computing with prefabricated data centres

26th June 2019

By , Regional Sales Director LATAM, Flexenclosure

Edge computing is not a temporary trend.  Businesses and consumers across the world have become extremely dependent on the Internet – as the infographic below from @LoriLewis and @OfficiallyChadd shows.  The exponential generation and consumption of data is central to it all and edge computing is a critical component, without which the continued growth of these figures would not be possible.

In this environment of massive data generation and consumption, for many applications any delay at all in the transmission or availability of data is simply unacceptable.  It wasn’t that long ago that we expected to have to wait for even the shortest of online video clips to buffer, but now we expect entire high definition feature-length films to stream from providers such as Netflix without even a momentary pause.

This increased dependency on data and the expectation of an application’s immediate response is driving a significant change in the way and place that data is being managed.  Processing time-sensitive data in large centralised data centres far from its users can often result in reduced application performance or even failure due to network latency or bottlenecks, hence the increasing importance of edge computing and edge data centres.

For data centre operators this means no longer being able to rely on one or two large centralised facilities.  Instead, these now need to be supplemented by a network of smaller edge data centres capable of both storing and processing data much closer to their end users.  And with customer demand increasing exponentially, the challenge is how to scale up fast enough to meet that demand?

Construction of an eCentre modular data centre for Tigo in Bolivia

Simplified deployment

Data centre design and build has been evolving for some time and there are various construction options available today.  What is clear throughout the industry though is that as more and more edge data centres need to be established, it will be done with a prefabricated solution.

Modular facilities such as Flexenclosure’s eCentre are ideal in the edge scenario as their implementation, instead of being a traditional construction project, is rather a finished product installation where CAPEX costs, deployment times and overall project risk are drastically reduced.

Modular data centres can be deployed almost anywhere and with far fewer on-site resources required than a traditional construction project.  This means that operators do not have to look for locations with specific characteristics, thus allowing the data centre to be sited where it ideally needs to be and without its location choices being held hostage by relatively unrelated infrastructure concerns.

With all equipment and technical systems preinstalled and tested in a controlled factory environment before being sent to the site, quality of installation and integration can be significantly increased for the facility’s most critical infrastructure.

And, not to be confused with small and inflexible containerized data centres, modular facilities can be built with infinitely configurable open white space and certified to Uptime Institute Tier IV level if necessary, delivering all the benefits of a traditionally built data centre but with none of the downsides.

eCentre - Paraguay (Tigo)eCentre modular data centre for Tigo Business in Paraguay

Simplified operation

Modular data centres are not only simple to deploy.  Implementing smart operational processes can make the running of multiple modular edge data centres simple and cost efficient too. Centralised equipment monitoring, remote security systems, the implementation of a building information model, preventative and predictive maintenance processes and the implementation of systems allowing remote support are all contributing to the rise of smart edge data centres where both capital and ongoing operational costs can be efficiently managed.

There is no doubt that over the coming years we will be seeing unprecedented growth in the edge data centre segment.  There are many myths related to modular data centres but the reality is that keeping pace with demand at the edge is a challenge that only modular data centre solutions are going to be able to meet.