What are the Benefits of an Edge Data Center? (Use Cases – Explained)

What is an Edge Data Center?

Edge data centers are smaller sized facilities to your typical Enterprise datacenter located close to the regions they serve data to your users. Example use case would be if your users need access to data frequently and instead of downloading data from your main datacenter they would use an edge data center close to their location. They typically connect to a larger central data center (Hub-Spoke network model) or multiple data centers. By processing data and services as close to the end user as possible, edge computing allows organizations to reduce network latency and improve the user experience.

Edge data center
Example of Edge Data Centers in a typical Hub and Spoke Network Topology

What are the Key Benefits an Edge Data Center Provides?

The key benefits for having an edge data center for your company are as follows:

 

  • Lets say for example your data center is in the US and you have several remote sites in Europe. Having an edge data center close to their region will help speed up access to that data. The edge data center replicates with the main data centre and serves that content to the remote users. This is often how a CDN works (Content Delivery Network). They serve up frequently accessed data to remote users, taking advantage of caching technology.

 

  • With the rise of IoT technology, one use case for edge data centers will be to assist IoT devices to access data much faster and remotely monitoring devices as recently seen in Autonomous vehicles and smart home devices. Having an edge data center will greatly increase the speed that IoT devices need in order to communicate with centrally located servers to share their data.

What type of Organization can benefit most from an Edge Data Center?

  • E-commerce – Websites that host media (music, images, video) such examples would be YouTube, Netflix, or Amazon. Using an edge data center they can serve media on their website to users much more quickly using a content delivery network hosted in remote edge data centers.

 

  • IT Operations – Companies that manage their IT operations centrally and need to remotely patch users workstations. Having to send Windows updates from a central location will take a very long time and cause a bottle neck within networks. Having an edge data center, they can deploy remote distribution points for patching Windows machines in remote sites (as used in Microsoft’s Endpoint Manager technology).

 

  • Manufacturers – The manufacturing industry are utilising IoT sensors to monitor their equipment in real-time. Edge data centers closer to each factory will be able to receive data from their IoT sensors much quicker.

 

  • Financial Sector – Banks are using edge data centers to help serve their customers better when using mobile phone apps. Trading firms that use High-frequency trading to perform their trades need to save every millisecond when performing trades which is why they use edge data centers.

 

  • Healthcare – The healthcare industry now uses IoT technology on their patient equipment in hospitals, so using edge data centers will enable them to read data from hospital equipment in real-time.
IoT using Edge data centers
Example infrastructure architecture of IoT devices using Edge Data Centers

What are reasons why a company can't use an Edge Data Center?

  • Companies that have very sensitive data and for legal/compliance reasons can’t share data in another data center. Some firms have several legal requirements when it comes to how data is stored and accessed. Having edge data centers, a company could potentially be in jeopardy of being in danger of not being in compliance with the data.

 

  • Reduced IT visibility and lack of control. Having edge data centers increases the amount of systems to monitor and manage and this if not implemented and managed correctly could cause more head ache and potentially open up more risk for a small IT department.  Having edge data centers, especially smaller ones where there is no dedicated IT staff often means IT departments loose visibility and control of their systems. Another downside is some legacy systems may not be compatible with newer types edge data centers and could cause increased management.

How to Plan to use Edge Data Centers ?

If you are considering implementing an edge data center, start looking at the benefits of having an edge data center first and look at the pros and cons of using an edge data center. If the pros out way the cons then you should start to look at the following steps to start integrating edge data centers into your network.

 

  • Network / Data Security requirements
  • Bandwidth consumption – If replicating data, analyse the type of data and how often data is to be replicated to remote edge data centers
  • High Availability for new systems being deployed at your edge data centers
  • Start planning disaster recovery at these new edge data centers (Backups, Failover, Replication, etc)
  • Physical security – Look at how the access to these new edge data centers is managed (CCTV, Security passes, on site security personnel)
Andrew Fitzgerald

Cloud Solution Architect. Helping customers transform their business to the cloud. 20 years experience working in complex infrastructure environments and a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert on everything Cloud

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