cloud in data center (By Virgiliu Obada/


When data centers move to the network edge

What: “Edge Data Centers,” a position paper by the Telecommunications Industry Association

Why: Machine-to-machine communication driven by the growth of the internet of things is already increasing the amount of information data centers and networks must handle. Deploying many smaller distributed data centers may be the most viable solution for keeping with the network and computing demands.

Findings: Edge data centers "will range from small clusters of “Edge Cloud” resources located on a street light, to a few racks located in a shelter at the base of a cell tower, inside buildings or in a building behind the corner gas station, to a self-contained ready-to-drop and plug-in container,” the report explains.

These edge data centers will be small, cheaper and easier to deploy than their behemoth consolidated counterpart. By being located closer to the end user, they will provide greater bandwidth and decreased latency, which will be critical for emerging applications like autonomous vehicles, drones, public safety systems and medical technology.

These new networks will be characterized by a high density of distributed edge data centers and bi-directional data flow and will require a larger investment to assure availability. Many edge data centers will likely be unmanned, operating in remote locations, so they may require environmentally friendly designs as well as automated monitoring of operational and information technologies.

The report includes a chart providing a detailed comparison of edge and traditional data centers.

Verbatim: "The Edge does not stand alone but is connected forming an interoperable fabric extending from device to core to cloud. The importance of connectivity and the bridging of wireless and wired networks in a distributed, consolidated manner, will be an essential value for enabling [information and communications technology] service provider and enterprise data center managers to drive further innovation at the edge."

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.

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