The Advent of Edge Data Centers and Advanced Cooling Solutions

March 5, 2020 / by Lane Gregory

Growing Demands on Data Center Performance

Every day we push technology to its limit. We demand more, faster, accessible, and smarter technologies to download, upload, connect to, and apply. It comes as no surprise that businesses strive to catch up to consumer demands. As the trend continues to favor capable cloud services, the need to provide high-speed performance that users require is essential. This expectation is no longer limited to large metropolitan areas. Competition surpasses city limits creating an immediate need to provide critical content for users throughout the country. To satisfy the internet of things (IoT) network demands, companies are caching the most popular content on servers closer to the end user, creating a new kind of data center category, known as edge data centers. 

Edge-Applications-and-STULZ-Micro-DC-Solution

Defining Edge Data Centers  

In discussing modern innovation, internet infrastructure, and network strategies, it’s hard not to bring up the edge. As the name suggests, location is a component of its definition.

"Edge is a kind of data center where
information processing is physically located
in proximity to the customers."

Generally speaking, edge is a kind of data center where information processing is physically located in proximity to the consumers. In edge computing, sensors and other connected devices collect and analyze IoT data locally, alleviating the dependence on cloud or internet connectivity in specific situations where information needs to be processed quickly, reliably and securely. That means compute, storage and network connectivity are all at the edge, either on the IoT device itself or in a local gateway, and data is processed there. Since they are positioned closer to end users, speed is a trademark element of edge data centers. They can deliver faster services with minimal latency.

In addition to location, there must also be a huge cache of content, along with web service companies and networks to extend the internet to the edge. Edge data centers may provide a range of services on their own and may also connect back to a larger data center that provides cloud resources and data processing. Edge connectivity is especially relevant considering that IoT devices have limited computing abilities and will increasingly rely on computational power, access to data storage, high bandwidth and low latency connectivity. Local end users should experience improved media and security features with better performance at a lower cost. Because it uses an efficient architecture for transferring and processing data, a true edge data center should be able to provide measurable results at a better value. And the advent of 5G will revolutionize this experience.  

5G and the Edge

One of the primary purposes of edge data centers is to reduce latency – or delays in transmitting data. This means that the closeness to the end user or devise is necessary for the speed of reaction. Add 5G to the mix, and we are pushing edge to the edge. 5G has a very different frequency band than 4G and LTE. The coverage of one 5G antenna is much smaller, but much more data can be transmitted with much less latency. Not only do we need thousands of antennas to bring 5G to the general population, this almost-real-time speed of reaction can only be guaranteed if we have 5G and an edge data center in close proximity to each other. Huge amounts of data will also require an interaction with a central cloud to run high performance computing solutions. Clearly, edge data centers will become increasingly important for industry-specific or service-based sectors in smart cities.

"With the advent of 5G, edge data centers
will become increasingly important for
industry-specific or service-based sectors,
especially in Tier 2 markets."

Getting closer to a mobile or distributed workforce, being able to process data from the IoT, supporting innovative products, engaging with customers, and adding new capabilities are the top reasons businesses are choosing edge computing. But there are challenges. The lack of space or ability to support remote equipment, cyber and physical security concerns, slow and expensive 5G rollout, and the absence of maintenance support can hinder edge deployment. The rollout of 5G will drive edge technologies, especially to support smaller markets. By 2050, 68% of the global population will live in urban cities. Clearly, it is becoming increasingly important to digitally connect various city infrastructures. This will contribute to sustainability and improved quality of life for residents, especially for those in underserved smaller cities, known as Tier 2 markets.

Tier 2 Markets

There is an increasing demand for data center space in smaller emerging markets (also referred to as Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets and include cities such as Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Columbus, and Nashville). Most edge data centers are physically located in Tier 2 markets that don’t have easy access to larger, more powerful colocation facilities. Consequently, there is room in the underserved secondary market for new entrants with high-quality data centers providing colocation to quickly gain market share. With IoT generating the heaviest demand, edge can be delivered in multiple ways including micro data centers in IT closets (most seen in Tier 3 cities) and colocation data centers (most common in Tier 2 cities).

Micro data centers are an ideal all-in-one solution for modern edge applications.   

For companies hoping to take advantage of this growing IT infrastructure, micro data centers – self-contained, stand-alone rack-level systems at the edge – are a means to gain a competitive advantage in edge computing. Micro data centers have emerged as a technology of choice for helping to manage the growing needs across edge environments.

"Micro data centers have emerged as a
technology
of choice for helping to manage the
growing needs across edge environments."

Perhaps the most important benefit of a micro data center is its flexibility to be used in a wide variety of applications. Individual micro data center solutions can be tuned to simplify core business challenges and can be done in any location, with a smaller footprint. A rise in the adoption of energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective cooling solutions has driven the growth and popularity of micro data center solutions. This is when we come in.

The STULZ Micro Data Center is Designed for the Edge

STULZ-Micro-Data-Center

We offer a cost-effective solution that combines functionality with a sustainable footprint perfect for the edge: the STULZ Micro DC. With requirements of latency, bandwidth, and security, this highly efficient modular solution is easily scalable to meet the needs of today and those of the future, even where space is limited. In contrast to Tier 2 edge data centers which have physical locations near consumers, our Micro Data Center could be located anywhere and is stand alone.

"In contrast to Tier 2 edge data centers
which have physical locations near consumers,
our Micro Data Center could be located
anywhere and is stand alone."

Every STULZ Micro DC can be configured for low to medium density IT loads, as well as a combination of Integrated Precision Cooling (ICS™) and Direct Liquid Cooling (DLC™), for high density workloads up to 80 kW per rack. With two versions, and three rack sizes available, this solution offers scalability that makes it possible to grow with future requirements. This is a distinct advantage as traditional data centers often need to be planned years in advance. Consequently, costly restructuring is not uncommon. Depending on needs, the STULZ Micro DC can grow from a 1-rack configuration (from 3 kW) to a 6-rack configuration with a heat load of up to 80 kW. This can drastically reduce your investment costs in IT infrastructure.

All configurations include a 19" standard rack, which can be easily equipped with accessories such as a UPS, PDU, cable management system, LED lights, and software for environmental monitoring. The STULZ Micro DC is configured with all the key design aspects of a brick and mortar data center in mind, including critical power distribution, fire suppression, physical security, and precision cooling.

Direct Liquid Cooling

Cooling has been the focus of constant refinement and optimization for data center users. With rising chip power forcing rack density higher, there is an increased interest in liquid cooling options. DLC, or Direct Liquid Cooling, utilizes the exceptional thermal conductivity of liquid to provide dense, concentrated cooling for target surfaces. DLC drastically reduces dependency on fans or air handlers. Extreme rack densities are possible, but DLC is not just for high performance data centers. In either case, customer operating expenses are reduced tangibly and measurably.

"With rising chip power forcing
rack density higher, there is an increased
interest in liquid cooling options."

CoolIT Systems’ Rack DLC passive cold plates are managed via a centralized pumping architecture. These patented cold plate assemblies can cool any combination of CPU, GPU, and Memory components, with customization available for Voltage Regulators, ASIC, and FPGA. Servers remain hot-swappable and simple to service.

The Rack DLC Rack Manifold manages liquid distribution between the Coolant Distribution Unit (CDU) and any number of Passive Coldplate Loops. Installed (new or retrofitted) vertically, manifolds can be customized to suit any rack environment. Rack Manifolds are incredibly reliable and robust, utilizing a stainless-steel body combined with 100% non-drip, metal quick disconnects.

CoolIT Systems’ Rack DLC product line offers a variety of CDUs depending on load requirements and availability of facility water, including rack-mount CHx80 or CHx750. Featuring sophisticated monitoring systems, these liquid-to-liquid heat exchangers utilize centralized pumping architecture to ensure superior performance and reliability.

The All-in-One Data Center Advantages

The world is becoming even more complicated for data center experts and communication service providers. The number of networked devices continues to explode, leaving today's IT professionals with data traffic growing by as much as 50% each year. The STULZ Micro DC provides a cost-effective solution to quickly build up local IT capacity and deliver these standout advantages:

  • Fast configuration & delivery
  • "Drop-in" solution (quick to install and easy to expand)
  • 19” standard rack available in three different heights and two different depths (availability depending on your region)
  • Modular configurations with traditional precision cooling and industry leading liquid chip level cooling technology
  • Modular design with removable Integrated Cooling Solution (ICS), so that the system fits through conventional door dimensions
  • Each device is individually configured, tested and delivered
  • Suitable for non-data center environments
  • For high-density workloads up to 80 kW per rack
  • Worldwide sales and service network

Decades of experience combined with a constant drive for innovation is what makes STULZ unique. From engineer to customer consultant, we work together to develop and continuously optimize mission critical solutions for data center and IT professionals. The result is an all-in-one data center solution that is configured and delivered to you, ready to go. Opportunity awaits at the edge.

Learn more about Micro Data Centers

Topics: Micro Data Center, Edge Data Center

Lane Gregory

Written by Lane Gregory

Lane Gregory is the Marketing Manager at STULZ USA, where she leverages her 15 years of experience in both traditional and digital marketing, sales, and media. Lane is also an adjunct faculty member at The George B. Delaplaine Jr. School of Business at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, where she teaches Advertising Management, Marketing Research and Integrated Marketing Concepts in the MBA program. When not strategizing on how to fill the sales funnel, Lane can be found gardening, cooking, and enjoying the great outdoors with her family.

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