Edge Computing

Why Does 5G Need Edge Computing in a Micro Data Center?

#KingstonCognate introduces Simon Besteman

Photo of Simon Besteman: an ISP, supplier, data center consultant

Simon Besteman is a French and Dutch national, and a veteran of the ICT and data center industry. He has over 20 years of experience working at ISPs, suppliers, and data centers and as a management consultant for a wide range of organizations. Simon has held various senior management positions in multinational companies in the areas of service, sales and marketing, operations management, and strategic development.

Currently, Simon is the CEO of ISPConnect, the Dutch coalition of hosting providers. As a leading representative of the industry he is a frequent blogger on industry and policy matters, a keynote speaker at congresses and conferences, and a participant at Dutch government round tables on telecommunication, data center, and internet regulatory matters. He sits on the boards of various industry groups, with a focus on education, employment, and governance.

What Is Driving the Need for Edge Data Centers?

For years, the main trend in the data center industry worldwide was driven by the economies of scale achieved by ever larger facilities, so-called hyperscale data centers. For good reason. The operating cost per rack or per server is lower when the overhead costs can be shared by larger numbers of servers. Connectivity is easier to procure for larger data centers. It’s comparatively easier to build a redundant power infrastructure (2N, 2N+) for one very large facility. In colocation, the presence of a large variety of customers creates opportunities to connect data center users to a symbiotic offer of services.

The Trend Toward Micro Data Centers at the Edge

Social network lines

From nothing a decade ago, there are now more than 500 giant hyperscale data centers worldwide. The trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon. The tech giants, cloud providers, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are seeing robust year-on-year growth as traditional on-premise IT gradually migrates towards the cloud. They need more computing power and more cooling power than ever before. As for the share of data generated and destined for use by other machines (automated devices) grows, it’s reasonable to expect the trend towards the larger data center go on for the foreseeable future.

At the same time, we are witnessing a parallel trend towards micro data centers which are at locations closer to the “edge,” where the data is being generated and consumed. These data centers at the edge of the network are known as edge data centers. Edge data centers are usually much smaller than the large data centers and complement the existing infrastructure. They solve a problem today and play a decisive role in preparing the IT infrastructure of the future. The problem they solve is one of connectivity.

Edge Data Centers Enable Efficiencies

The weak point of centralization is that all the data is in a data center at the core of the network and all users must connect to the central point in order to access the data. This has two consequences: it requires a significant amount of bandwidth, and the latency (the time it takes for the data to reach the user) cannot be brought sufficiently low enough to manage certain applications efficiently. Bringing the data closer to the edge makes it possible to manage the flow of data to the user more efficiently. Instead of having to connect to the hyperscale to download a series, the data gets cached in an edge data center closer to the user. The data only needs to travel from the edge facility to the end user. It also allows for a much faster response as the data only needs to travel over a short distance.

The second issue edge addresses is one that is developing and will come to maturity in the next 24 to 36 months. It is the exponential increase in the volume of data generated and exchanged. The two main components of this are separate but related: IoT and 5G.

Machine-Generated Data

Whereas the growth of data in the past decade was mostly driven by human consumption (people started to watch videos on their phones and use apps to do banking and shopping), the next wave of data will be generated by machines. This data will be processed, analyzed, and actioned by other machines. It is a different form of data, and it’s an order of magnitude greater than the data we use today. We’re talking about the data generated (and required) by cars on the move, by sensors in the streets of smart cities, agriculture, manufacturing, and environmental devices. Reams of data in unprecedented quantities (think 40 terabytes of data per 8 hours for a self-driving car) that need to be filtered and aggregated close to the source. It needs to be in a processed form for a central cloud. Smart cities, IoT, and drone delivery services will also rely on the edge micro data center to realize the potential of 5G. Kingston Technology is one of the manufacturers anticipating these demands and bringing to the market solutions that can cope with these extraordinary requirements.

5G

Smart Devices Everywhere Connected with High-Speed 5G

5G will be the central element of this revolution. This next step of mobile communication will be rolled out gradually starting in 2020. It not only allows for much higher speeds (100 times faster on average) but 5G will allow us to connect with up to one million devices per square kilometer. It will allow for a sensor on every square foot of a field to transmit real-time data on the humidity of the soil. This will make it possible to irrigate with targeted precision. Therefore, managing water with greater precision than we can do today. Sensors in our homes will transmit real-time data on our health, our environment, and our power requirements. In industrial environments, 5G will allow the remote management of parts, and automate quality controls and supply chains. The changes will make a difference to the way we work and live.

The Rise of 5G Micro Data Centers in Telecom

Today, most of the development for the edge of network sites are driven by the telecommunication providers in the form of micro data centers. They have the infrastructure in place and, more importantly, they already have the real estate facilities needed to create the structures. They will be the pioneers in edge. Behind them, the commercial data center companies will be moving fast.

The demand put on edge data centers from the growth of 5G will be quite different from the current data centers. They are smaller and require less power. They will be aligned with the communication and storage of data, mostly on SSD. Kingston Technology has been developing memory and storage solutions to handle the volume and speed.

Ready-Set-Go: Now Is the Time to Get Ready for Edge

A new game is developing, and we will have to adapt to the new reality. Now is the time to get ready for edge. It’s a different kind of data center that will have requirements different than those we are used to. Getting it right will be crucial for succeeding with this new development. The way to start is to reach out to the right people with the expertise that will be needed to set it up properly.

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