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The explosion of data at the network edge continues unabated and is forcing companies to implement strategies to keep up, including micro data centers that are quick to deploy, highly resilient and remotely manageable. One strategy that we expect will prove effective: partnering to get the job done. 

Data center

Numbers tell the story. By 2025, we'll be dealing with more than 75 billion connected devices, according to IHS. They will be concentrated at the edge, where Gartner predicts 75 percent of data will be processed, managed and consumed by 2025, up from just 10 percent in 2018. 

All this data is the result of companies adopting digital transformation technologies, notably Internet of Things applications that create an onslaught of data from devices and sensors at the edge. Companies need ways to effectively process this data to extract value from it. In short, they need to deploy edge data centers — potentially lots of them, and fast. 

Edge data center challenges 

But deploying data centers at the edge is wrought with challenges. Most edge sites have limited or no IT staff, so they need to be monitored and managed remotely. Resiliency can be an issue because edge facilities often lack robust power and cooling infrastructure that is common in centralized data centers.

Similarly, edge facilities may not have proper physical security required to thwart unauthorized access, leading to the risk of cyber-security issues. A lack of standardization in terms of edge components can create integration problems, making it time-consuming and costly to deploy multiple edge data centers.

3 keys to effective edge data centers

Addressing these issues requires taking a holistic approach to edge data centers that involves three key attributes, as follows.

1. Focus on integration

Meeting challenges at the edge requires a focus on integration among the data center IT components, support for power and cooling infrastructure and simplified deployment and improved resiliency.

Edge facilities include much of the same IT components you'd find in a traditional, centralized data center, including servers, storage and networking equipment. Often, companies find hyper-converged infrastructure makes sense at the edge because it combines powerful compute, storage and networking capabilities in a single enclosure, saving space and making management easier. 

It's important that enclosure offers the protection the sensitive IT equipment requires for the environment in which it'll be located, whether that's a harsh factory floor, a retail location or a restaurant. You have to ensure the enclosure has proper power and cooling for the IT load it supports. Ensuring all these components work effectively together requires detailed testing, ideally with production loads.

2. Management platforms

A key attribute of success is cloud-based monitoring and management platforms that can provide 24x7 visibility to edge sites, especially given the likelihood that you won't have any IT staff at edge locations. Cloud-based services are also available that offer artificial intelligence-based expert insights, including predictive monitoring capabilities that can warn you of impending equipment issues. 

It's unlikely you'll find a single company that offers all the required IT components, enclosures, power/cooling infrastructure and management services, as well as sourcing and deployment capabilities.

3. Partner eco-structure

In response to the above statement, the final key to edge success is the ability to partner with two or more companies to get everything you need.

WWT: Integrating partner solutions 

Creating partnerships that ensure customers get the IT solutions they need to solve business problems is what we have been doing for years.

Micro data center

For edge solutions, we've partnered with Cisco for its HyperFlex hyper-converged infrastructure, as well as APC by Schneider Electric for its micro data center enclosures, which include all required power and cooling. 

APC provides many options for enclosures suitable for any environment, Cisco-certified Shock Packaging that enables you to safely ship it anywhere and its EcoStruxure IT platform for remote monitoring and predictive analytics.

While all of that may sound great, WWT understands that customers need assurance that whatever they choose will work as advertised for their specific workloads. That's why we built our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), which is made up of fully equipped data centers where customers can try out different HCI combinations with their actual production application loads. 

Once you're satisfied you've got a solution that will support your intended applications, it's time to engage our Integration Centers, where we'll gather everything you need, load up all the software, install the equipment in your choice of enclosure, ship it wherever it needs to go and finally, get it up and working once it's on site.

WWT's Integration Centers provide more than 4 million square feet of warehouse and integration space spread over three continents with the capacity to configure more than 30,000 systems per week.

Get help at the edge 

The explosion of data at the edge is only in its beginning phases. Companies will need a sound, sustainable strategy for rolling out edge data centers to handle the onslaught. Few will be able to go in alone.

WWT is invested in ensuring our partnerships with Cisco and APC pay off for our customers, enabling you to address edge challenges. To learn more about all of our pre-integrated micro data center offerings, contact our Facilities Team for options or schedule a Facilities Infrastructure Workshop