Technology | Edge computing

What’s the deal with edge data centres?

Words by Alex Matheson
What’s the deal with edge data centres?

Edge computing is becoming a more commonplace term. We’ve discussed it ourselves in an espresso article and on our podcast. But there’s still elements of life at the edge that need demystifying. For example, the world of edge data centres.

What is an edge data centre?

Put simply, an edge data centre is a data processing facility that exists closer to an end user than the public cloud. By existing closer to the end user and processing some or all of the data that needs to be delivered to the cloud, they allow for lower latency, with larger quantities of data being processed in quicker times.

The cloud is where massive amounts of data can be stored, retrieved, processed, analysed and more. But with more and more data needing to be utilised at any one time, edge computing provides a means for capitalising on the power of the cloud, without getting bogged down transmitting massive quantities of information to distant facilities.

What different types of edge data centres are there?

The main types of edge data centres are:

  • On Premise

  • Tower Edge

  • Outer Edge

  • Inner Edge

  • Regional

Every type of edge data centre has it’s own benefits and drawbacks as well as its own audiences. A business might make use of one, more or all of them as the need arises. As companies grow, they might find themselves making use of multiple different edge data processing centre types that they hadn’t initially envisioned themselves using. Let’s look at each one and what they offer.

What is an on premise edge data centre?

On premise edge data centres exist solely on an organisations property. They’re operated by the premises’ main occupant and offer the benefit of control, but with the drawback of increased infrastructure costs.

On premise data centres have existed for decades now. Whether they’re dedicated computer systems or specific servers, they are 100% on site and give organisations complete control over their data handling capabilities.

When applying this idea to edge data centres, you have a utility which is in your control and which is adaptable to your needs. They provide a big reduction to latency by allowing you to process large amounts of data onsite, but also come with limitations in terms of cost, upkeep, and logistical considerations such as space requirements.

What is a tower edge data centre?

Tower edge data centres exist at the ‘last mile’ or the final point between networks and end users. They exist all over cities and offer a huge boost as they provide ready access to edge computing for everything from connected cars to cloud gaming.

The other main benefit is down to them being a part of existing infrastructure. They can become part of communications towers with inbuilt access to connectivity, without taking up expensive space in built up areas.

What is an outer edge data centre?

Outer edge data centres exist where regional phonelines meet. This is where we start moving away from premises and customers, and begin to see larger data centres that act as stepping stones to the cloud proper.

The benefits of outer edge data centres are similar to the tower, but with much more room for expansion and more utility. They can grow and adapt as a region requires and can offer edge capabilities to many more users.

What is an inner edge data centre?

Inner edge data centres exist close to metropolitan areas and are set up at nexus points where a variety of different services are offered to end users. Much like outer edge data centres, they offer opportunities for growth and like tower edge data centres, they benefit from instant access to connectivity.

With their close proximity to a larger number of end users, they also offer an increased reduction in latency. Though they can often be less scalable than outer edge data centres due to restricted space for growth.

What is a regional edge data centre?

Regional edge data centres are the largest types of edge data centre, serving massive amounts of varied end users for multiple different purposes. Due to their user base they tend to be in or near major cities, providing proximal access to the most amount of people possible.

Their benefits are tied to their users. With more users and more financial support, they can offer the latest technology and in turn, the best services. They are built to be scalable, offer the lowest latency available and the broadest functionality. Whether a business is serving the general public or needing super fast data handling for their own internal processes, regional data centres can cater.

There we have it, a dip into the world of edge data centres. They serve an important function and exist all around us! So, next time you’re streaming a video or transferring a particularly hefty file, give a little thanks to these technological wonders.