Rittal Blog

Edge Computing Requires Proactive IT Management — Here’s How to Do It

December 15 2021 by Herb Villa


As discussed in previous Rittal blogs, Edge computing can be found on a factory floor, in a warehouse, under a cell tower… wherever Edge applications and data collection processing support are needed.

Being close to the sensors, actuators, and applications where data is created solves latency issues, minimizes storage costs, and allows for real-time analysis. However, the appliances deployed in single, stand-alone footprints still need climate control, power distribution, fire suppression, security systems — AND monitoring — the same components deployed in a more traditional IT space. And with all these remote subsystems, monitoring their performance becomes a critical function.

With installation location often an issue, proactive IT management is vital to an Edge deployment’s success. Modern communication technology allows for remote monitoring, giving operators proper site management control. Let’s dive into that after this quick review.


Data Center vs. The Edge: A Quick Review

Managing one hundred servers in a single location is one thing. Managing one hundred servers across one hundred different locations is a completely different challenge.

Traditional data centers are spaces built specifically for housing IT equipment. The environment is perfect, the security is tight, and the monitoring is easily accomplished (the IT network server/racks are right there). Naturally, IT management is mostly approached as reactive — whatever needs to happen within the current space — not proactive, as it needs to be for an Edge installation.

As mentioned, an Edge deployment will be anywhere that is NOT a traditional data center. These less-than-ideal conditions are usually in uncontrolled environments, perhaps even `lights out’ or at least unsupervised, so a proactive approach to IT management is required. That means implementing simple, preventive measures, then regularly monitoring and managing the Edge’s assets.


Full Visibility is Vital

An Edge deployment is a significant investment in equipment, IT network server/racks, power, and the footprint as a whole. Having complete visibility and control helps in:

  • Ensuring the overall health of all installed IT appliances and supporting equipment
  • Providing advanced warning of equipment issues: hotspots, power loss, etc.
  • Taking preventive or corrective actions: switching devices on/off and power cycling them
  • Maintaining uptime and avoiding equipment failure
  • Evaluating how the existing space is being used (percentage full, power needs, etc.) to help determine scale up needs

Because having skilled technicians dedicated to managing an Edge deployment is likely impractical, remote management tools are a must. Plus, the best applications may be “plug-and-play” in terms of easy installation and ongoing management.


Proactive, Must-Have Monitoring

In order to see what is going on, you need a system to tell you. Whether one outdoor Edge deployment or dozens, a reliable monitoring system is a “must have,” providing information on critical operational parameters that support functionality:

  • Equipment status — run time, service schedules, power condition
  • Set points — clearly identified critical parameters
  • Temperature — internal, ambient, fluctuations
  • Real-time alarms — sensors alert to the presence of fire/smoke/gas, dust/debris/water, temperature/humidity/airflow changes, and motion (including vandalism threats)

Speaking of vandalism, the topic of security warrants a lot of your attention. Edge standalone installations are often isolated, either within a facility or far from it. With no staff nearby, reliable security is a concern.

As you read the following questions, remember that high-quality IT network/server racks prioritize security. They are built with internal hinges, multi-point lock rods, and sturdy frame design to help deter break-ins, and many also include monitoring systems with sensors and video surveillance.

Is the installation near constantly changing human traffic?

Is it easy to vandalize?

Are physical break-ins a realistic concern?

What other physical threats are nearby: fire, smoke, gas, electromagnetic fields, vibration, etc.?

Smart monitoring systems (with the right software) boost security, maximize uptime, store data, and track conditions, helping inform future decision making. The best part? Any responsive action needed can be taken immediately and automatically. There is no need to wait for a technician to inspect it. That is proactive IT management!


One Main “Brain” for Your Edge Installations

Proactive IT management centralizes operations, creating a solution that actively monitors and controls, in real-time, IT network/server racks. Climate is controlled, environmental conditions are monitored, back-up support is ready, and notifications are sent when an alarm is triggered.

The best way to take advantage of the benefits of one main IT management “brain” is to work with an experienced, IT network/server rack manufacturing partner. They understand Edge deployments and what a properly prepared Edge infrastructure looks like, plus they can provide the needed equipment and support as well as recommend cabinets that can scale with you.

One example is Rittal’s CMC III Monitoring System. IT facilities managers use it to monitor all conditions (30+ monitoring sensors inside each Edge footprint) from one remote location. The CMC III also acts independently, initiating countermeasures automatically when an alarm is triggered. Rittal also offers a support center that provides installation/assembly and commissioning of the monitoring system.

And an additional benefit – CMC III software can communicate with many existing network protocols – TCP/IP, Ethernet, ModBus, etc. This capability enables seamless connections to other BMS or DCIM systems, enabling CMCIII to be incorporated into larger enterprise monitoring systems.

Wherever business needs it, IT infrastructure is now there, and that need is growing incredibly fast. According to Gartner, as soon as 2022, more than 50% of enterprise data will be created and processed outside a data center or the cloud, which has skyrocketed up from <10% in 2019.

As Edge computing spreads to nearly everywhere, the farther away that computing moves from core IT resources. Organizations need proactive, Edge-specific strategies for managing and securing workloads.

Are you needing to optimize Edge deployments for individual applications? Watch our brief but informative 3-part video series. Click the link below to get started!


Categories: Edge Computing

Herb Villa

Written by Herb Villa

Rittal Sr. Applications Engineer