January 27, 2021
In the pandemic recovery world, an increase in compute-intensive technologies e.g. IoT, AI, and others, will remain as major drivers of the Edge market; with demand expanding, data centers must move closer to the Edge to allow for more robust connectivity to meet both enterprise and consumer needs. Edging the computing power closer to the end-users, Edge Data Centers offer increased security and privacy, decreased latency–a critical concern due to the onslaught of connected devices–and expedited upstream data transfer to Cloud ecosystems.
Edge computing frameworks, integrated into a broader range of business and consumer infrastructures supporting Autonomous Cars, e-Health, and Smart Cities, for example, are expected to grow to $534.3 billion by 2025. According to Grand View Research the global Edge Computing market size will exceed 37% CAGR from 2020 to 2027, with the IoT-Edge partnership revolutionizing data computing. Every second, 127 new devices are connected to the web, driving the number of IoT devices that will be online to rise to 75 billion by 2025. And with more devices onboarding, driving IoT applications, and analytics, decreased latency is a critical necessity.
Edge Data Center Is Not Cloud
Across a nation and/or globe, Edge Data Centers fill the unique role of bringing processing capability closer to the application or user. From adding compute power in urban applications, to being placed in remote and hard-to-reach areas, Edge Data Centers differ from their bigger cousins in that they generally operate without any on-site staff. The units, usually prefabricated, still rely on all of the technology typical to a full-sized data center. And, in addition, they also rely on software solutions to facilitate remote management, triage, and monitoring. Therefore, IoT Platforms are the key to achieving uptime for this next generation of Data Centers.
IoT Platforms enable remote rollout and management; they are critical for pandemic-proofing a site amidst any crisis when deploying on-site staff is impossible due to hard-to-reach locations, or there is simply a safety issue. Whether tasked with monitoring one, or thousands of geographically distributed sites, IoT Platforms allow operators to remotely manage and troubleshoot from one to thousands of location portfolios, from anywhere on the Earth.
Considering that Edge locations are a few feet in size – with one or half a rack, and a power profile of up to 100KW, dedicated to a few city blocks – they have a very low tolerance for failure or outages. Edge Data Centers serve essential infrastructure, and are set up near essential sites for either public or private enterprise applications. They are built out in networks, often in tandem with larger Colocation or Hyperscale Data Centers.
IoT Platforms allow Edge Data Centers to know in real-time when problems arise, and facilitate remote troubleshooting and triage. Additionally, the data acquired from IoT Platforms can feed runtime analytics, allowing for preventative maintenance to eliminate costly downtime. Avoiding downtime–when an average network downtime can cost nearly $5,600 per minute or $300,000 per hour, according to Gartner–is critical. IoT Platforms alert operators with risk notifications before major problems turn into costly, irreversible disasters. With the ability to divert risks in a timely manner using remote triage, operational costs are drastically lowered, allowing for uninterrupted uptime. Operators can aggregate, organize, and analyze data from across all their technologies and subsystems to keep their facilities alive, while turning aggregated data into useful, actionable, outcome-based analytics.
This real value of an IoT Platform is in its unified management dashboard. From a single pane of glass of truth, operators remotely monitor and manage critical facilities’ equipment across geographically distributed locations, to maintain business continuity while:
- Improving issue response–triaging issues without on-site staff involvement or costly truck rolls.
- Troubleshooting and conducting predictive maintenance–before major disaster risks.
- Securing their critical facility–by maintaining locks, alarms, HVAC, and other systems.
- Maintaining uptime–maintaining OpEx costs.
- Controlling and minimizing operating expenses.
All of this is achieved without being tied to a specific vendor’s equipment, allowing unprecedented flexibility in deployment design, and the ability to have generations of deployed infrastructure without fear of incompatibility.
IoT Platforms Free You From Vendor Lock
IoT Platforms approach data in a fundamentally different way; they consolidate data from all subsystems that speak, regardless of brand or type of equipment. IoT Platforms rationalize various sizes and shapes of data, from often different equipment manufacturers, into a consistent source of truth across one or many buildings/sites, creating an organized portfolio data-lake. Empowered with this data-lake, a single pane of glass enables full visibility and control; no longer are the traditional, individual software packages, which lack remote management capabilities without the significant IT involvement, needed from vendors.
Where IoT solutions truly shine is through the delivery of data:
- Unlike a preconceived, one-size-fits-all software to monitor applications, IoT Platforms use the portfolio of data to allow highly flexible management. They allow users to adapt on the fly’ to their specific business needs and requirements.
- Vendor agnostic and Open Source, IoT Platforms allow devices from different vendors to seamlessly integrate without vendor lock-in.
- While they don’t replace purpose-built solutions for individual trades or a BMS, they enable and synergize consolidated management of all the existing systems within facilities, easily adapting to the specific needs of critical facilities’ monitoring or control requirements.
- Users can seamlessly connect the consolidated dataset to either BI engines, external micro-service analytics, or software tools to gain actionable analytics unavailable by a single trade’s data silo.
As social distancing guidelines will most likely continue, critical facility operators, must continue to maintain the integrity of their facility from afar. IoT Platforms have proven indispensable for monitoring and managing critical infrastructure remotely, which is essential when most average sized facilities employ 10 or more subsystems (HVAC, electrical, WiFi, water, lighting control, etc.). With all these systems supplying data, it is no longer a choice to disregard the data trapped in siloed ecosystems of the individual trade. Or worse yet, not have them connected to solutions that allow for data harvesting.
With continued and increased levels of unpredictable natural and man-made disasters, pandemics, and extreme weather, challenges to critical facility operations will only intensify. IoT Platforms remain as the most comprehensive, cost-effective solutions to pandemic-proof the proliferating Edge Data Centers’ management and monitoring while expediting rapid provisioning of newly deployed facilities globally. Providing vital, real-time access to actionable data, remote, cost-effective facilities’ monitoring and control, IoT Platforms are the safest and most valuable unifying layer over any of the existing infrastructure.
Distributed facility owners and operators integrating IoT Platform solutions into their long-term corporate disaster recovery plans can reap the savings of efficient facility operations while maintaining uptime and business continuity.
Michael C. Skurla is the Chief Technology Officer of Radix IoT– offering limitless monitoring and management rooted in intelligence–and has over two decades’ experience in control automation and IoT product design with fortune 500 companies. He is a contributing member of CABA, ASHRAE, IES Education, and USGBC and a frequent lecturer on the evolving use of analytics and emerging IT technologies to foster efficiency within commercial facility design.