By Dmitry Tsyplakov, Solution Manager, Data Center, Huber+Suhner
5G connectivity holds the precedent for one of the most anticipated next-generation technologies of the decade. With expectations mounting as the technology nears full rollout, operators must ensure it is smooth, reliable and stable for supporting a vast volume of devices that will continue to grow in number. Integral to supporting the optimum performance of 5G connectivity are edge data centres (EDCs), which will support data traffic from applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and more.
To enable all these applications, the technology must offer low latency, high bandwidth and faster connection speeds, but, equally, data storage must evolve to support efficient data transmission between devices and infrastructure. EDCs promise to deliver just that!
Rough around the edges
With technological developments spanning across all levels of society, edge computing is increasingly looking like the right fit. Since the Internet was built around a centralised cloud architecture, it can’t support emerging technological applications and business requirements. With 5G and IoT technology developing, and data being generated at an exponentially rapid rate as a result, the failure to keep up with this evolution is not an option for Communication Service Providers (CSPs). Introducing new platforms brings new devices and applications, which in turn requires supporting hardware, software and services to continue to evolve too. To meet end users’ expectations, as in the case of the 5G era for example, highest measures of performance and safety for the infrastructure must be set first.
Edge computing and data centres provide processing and storage resources where needed, whether the operator’s side or users’. EDCs mimic a centralised cloud experience whilst reducing latency and expanding bandwidth. On the operator side, these resources are referred to as “infrastructure edge” and on the user side, “device edge”. For example, if end-point data is stored at the device edge of the cloud (rather than in the centre, as now), transmission distance is reduced and, therefore, occurs faster whilst eliminating risk of interference. This is a particularly useful attribute in online gaming, VR, manufacturing and automotive applications due to the ability to support near real-time responses for both entertainment and security purposes.
Edging to innovation
With the potential to improve performance, scaleability, reliability and regulatory compliance for many critical applications, new businesses now have an opportunity to revolutionise their ecosystems. In doing so, by implementing the latest technology they can maintain a significant industry lead. With EDCs still in development to reach their full potential in offering near-real-time responses, they are key to servicing future communications and applications.
Interest in edge computing and its use is growing rapidly, bringing with it an excellent opportunity to simplify and yet enlarge global infrastructures. At present, the edge-computing ecosystem is vast and evolving rapidly, with a huge market for defining EDC solutions. Whilst allowing for a competitive scope that increases the affordability and availability of the technology, this heightens the risk of market fragmentation and subsequent delays in rollout. By standardising the way EDCs are harnessed in an ecosystem, the industry can avoid fragmented inconsistencies. Different EDCs will suit different applications, but, because they are agile in nature, they can be tailored to specific requirements. For example, an EDC can be equipped with fibre-optic cabling connected to an all-optical switch, allowing for flexible administration with remote access. In this case, the operator could re-route traffic, open a new port or make other changes to the entire network topology with just a few mouse clicks and no exposure to outside elements.
Edge computing and centralised cloud services are not mutually exclusive, however, and can exist together. Thus, the transition between the two technologies has been gradual to maintain efficiency and currency. Instead, edge computing addresses the limitations of centralised computing, such as latency, privacy and autonomy, and enhances it. By moving the processing of such data closer to its source, transmissions are quicker and safer. By building upon already existing technologies and large-scale data centres, EDCs expand the potential for data processing. Challenging the current cloud model to support the deployment of 5G and IoT, as well as future applications, EDCs can transform networks, future-proofing them as the popularity of next-generation devices surges.