You want any data center to be efficient, secure, integrated, and provide reliable performance. That goes for Edge deployments as well, of course, yet these may not be as readily apparent compared to the traditional IT space.
As we mentioned in our do’s and don’ts list of Edge computing, there’s a right way and a wrong way to implement an Edge deployment. Specific to The Edge, there are some unknowns that can derail your plans unless carefully considered and accounted for.
Critical Edge Issues to Keep Top of Mind
1. Location — As critical as it is these days to gather data close to the source (key for IoT devices), it is a mistake to casually choose an environment without considering possible consequences.
Edge systems located in a harsh or uncontrolled environment — think of a manufacturing facility loaded with dust, debris, and moisture — require special attention. Other locations may be prone to security issues or temperature changes. It’s important to select IT cabinets (see #5 below) that are designed for your deployment’s specific conditions.
2. Contractors — When planning your Edge deployment, think of it as a fully functioning data center, because it is. Just on a much smaller scale. As a traditional data center is supported by experienced electrical and mechanical contractors, installing IT cabinets at The Edge demands the same levels of expertise. However, Edge deployments could be in remote locations, and small, local contractors may not understand what is needed for proper installation.
This is when an experienced and reliable IT cabinet manufacturer should step up to provide guidance, supply recommendations using ASHRAE and NEMA standards, and offer IT cabinet solutions designed to keep up with the next generation of data center trends.
3. Physical Security — Odds are you are not “overlooking” security; this is a data center after all. What you may not be considering, though, is exactly how much physical protection may be needed. Standalone Edge installations require particular attention to threats from people; both employees and the general public.
Does the installation location make unwarranted physical access to the IT cabinets a bigger risk? Is it easier to vandalize? What physical threats — fire, gas, smoke, vibration, electromagnetic fields — are possible? You must even consider any transient workforce. Is the installation exposed to a constantly changing population?
During design, thought should be put into how much physical security is required based on the Edge infrastructure’s specific environment. While eliminating all physical threats isn’t realistic, active security measures can be taken to protect data/equipment and monitor the deployment. And, of course, any physical security MUST complement your cyber security.
4. Redundancy — Some organizations cannot tolerate a single minute of downtime; others may not find it as critical. Yet, all need to consider the best level of redundancy, weighing redundancy needs versus how much an acceptable level of redundancy costs, as well as how much it costs to fail to be up and running.
Power supplies and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems have a big impact on uptime, so redundancies are needed most with them. What you may not be considering is how a lengthy interruption in cooling — an AC system breakdown, for instance — could be costly, so redundant cooling (see #6) may be needed.
5. IT Cabinets — As mentioned, Edge deployments can be located in environments with changing environmental conditions, which is not a problem for traditional data centers. Depending on the location, the IT cabinet will be the primary defense against the elements and contaminants.
• NEMA/IP rating: Choose the right protection based on the risks near your Edge location. An IT cabinet with a higher NEMA or IP rating is needed if the location regularly experiences splashing water, for instance; if that cabinet is inside a closet, the rating is much lower.
• Flexibility: Consider that IT cabinets should be able to scale as you grow. Modular IT cabinets can be reconfigured to fit new equipment (and equipment of different sizes) without cutting or welding to modify, which means no need for skilled labor.
As you see, the right IT cabinet should do more than secure your investment; it should solve location challenges, handle climate control, and ensure reliable power.
6. Cooling — Edge deployments may be located in rooms that were never designed to cool the heat generated by IT equipment. Existing air conditioning (or “comfort cooling”) is not powerful enough to adequately remove heat from a room, nor can it supply the right air flow and remove moisture as required.
One refrigerant-based IT cooling solution that meets Edge infrastructures’ demands is Rittal’s LCP DX, which is a closed-loop solution that keeps outside air from entering the cabinet. High-end IT cabinet cooling systems, like the LCP DX, will connect with active monitoring, such as Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM).
7. Pre-Engineered Platform Designs — A solution often overlooked when considering Edge deployments is a pre-engineered platform design, or bundle. The solution comes fully packaged, with all components arriving together; no more fabricating and modifying material to fit the physical space.
Rittal pre-engineered Edge standalone platforms, physical “plug & play” installations, keep things simple, affordable, high-quality, and scalable. Again, the location of the Edge deployment determines if a pre-configured system will be effective.
8. Industry Guidance — Edge computing can surprise some businesses with its complexity. Simple expectations can actually result in big changes in operations and distributed information technology.
Maximizing Edge deployments’ speed, flexibility, and cost-efficiency requires an expert partner that can bring light to overlooked challenges while also supplying fully-loaded IT cabinets faster and easier.
As explored in #6, increasing IT server/rack densities (especially within Edge deployments) demand efficient heat removal. Learn more about the various ways to keep a data center cool by reading this guide: Data Center Cooling: The Best Methods for Different Needs.