Edge, Data Centers, and Cloud


Twenty nine billion. That’s the latest projection for the number of connected devices on the global network by 2022. And roughly 18 billion of those devices will be related to the Internet of Things.

That means 18 billion nodes on the network, all vying for critical air time to communicate valuable data being captured. For some, the distance that data will need to traverse the network will be much shorter than for others, thanks to edge computing. Envision a mesh network of micro data centers with the ability to process and store data collected from intelligent devices and then push it straight to a central data center or a cloud repository, thus reducing the backhaul traffic. Edge computing moves computation into the cloud.

The true appeal of edge intelligence comes in moments when the idea of “real-time” isn’t just hyperbole. Think telehealth applications communicating life-or-death data or remote diagnostics on an oil rig in times of an emergency. And 5G accelerates the business case for edge computing as telecom providers look to add micro-data centers that are located either into or adjacent to their 5G towers.

Edge computing is a natural solution to mitigating data latency due simply to the fact that data does not need to process over a network to a data center or cloud. In fact, some in the industry are even touting "single-digit millisecond latency" with new edge computing networks.

Bringing such public cloud capabilities to the edge of the network can be achieved in multiple ways. One is a custom software stack emulating the cloud services running on existing hardware, often referred to as the device edge. Another, referred to as the cloud edge, involves extending the public cloud to multiple point-of-presence (PoP) locations. The method chosen simply comes down to the use case.

Major cloud providers like AWS and Microsoft are launching products aimed at the edge. And these companies are spending big money on data centers across the globe to enable more in the cloud. Some reports estimate that cloud companies and data center providers together spent $20 billion in 2017 to purchase properties to house their computer servers. It’s a record investment over the previous three years combined.

Data centers come in multiple forms, from the fully distributed down to the micro edge data center, which pull data further out to the edge where it is being produced and consumed. This is vital as we look at new markets like autonomous vehicles where a bevy of computational and regulatory and compliance data needs to be processed in a moment’s notice and at all times.

Within those data centers, the total cost of ownership continues to come down, with the footprint of equipment continuing to shrink thanks to virtualized infrastructure. Virtualized high-performance compute and storage platforms, coupled with standardized software and processors not only reduce the physical infrastructure needed to operate the network, but also lower IT management costs. Even satellite providers are moving in the direction of a virtualized hub infrastructure with the ability to scale up and down on demand, with some even running intelligent gateways that can support a range of hub-side applications.

Overall, strategies that fuel the way in which data is stored and transmitted will remain in constant evolution. TIA’s working groups, training opportunities, business networking, videos and services are ready to help you navigate the developing data center, edge computing and cloud arena.

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