PwC predicts that the global market for edge data centers will nearly triple to $13.5 billion in 2024 from $4 billion in 2017. However, designing, deploying, and maintaining multiple network edge data centers is fundamentally different from building one centralized data center. It can present several hurdles, as detailed in this previous post on network edge data center challenges. As a result, telecom, cloud service, and data center colocation providers, who will be managing a part of this growing edge market, should leverage a set of best practices specific to the network edge.
Top six steps to optimize data centers at the Network Edge
1. Improve power and cooling
At edge locations, it is crucial to proactively avoid downtime, as IT staff may not be on-site to quickly address issues. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) provide reliable and conditioned backup power to edge IT loads. Also consider Lithium-ion batteries, which have a longer life, embedded monitoring systems, and lower environmental impact. Liquid cooling can provide several benefits, such as higher energy efficiency, a smaller footprint, a lower total cost of ownership, noise reductions, and enhanced server reliability.
2. Select ruggedized enclosures
Companies get to choose the location of their centralized data center, but edge data centers need to be located where the data is – which could mean a harsh environment such as a warehouse, manufacturing site, or the base of a tower. Purpose-built ruggedized enclosures can protect micro data centers from dust or harsh temperatures with features such as highly durable enclosure materials, thermal insulation, double-wall panels, and ruggedized IT servers.
3. Bolster physical security
A recent Uptime Institute revealed that 85% of data center downtime incidents were caused by human error. Therefore, security should be built into the design of edge data centers to restrict who can access IT infrastructure. For example, IT cabinets should be locked, and send an alert when the doors are opened without authorization. In addition, consider biometric access locks and security cameras. Companies should also implement cybersecurity best practices at the edge, which includes proper device selection, secure network design, device setup and configuration.
4. Leverage prefabricated modular data centers
One of the key requirements of an edge data center strategy is the ability to roll out multiple data centers rapidly and have all of those data centers sharing standardized systems. One way to achieve that consistency and repeatability in a timely manner is to utilize prefabricated modular data centers. Prefabricated modular data centers are engineered, assembled, integrated, and tested in a factory environment to shorten the deployment timeframe and improve the predictability of performance and cost.
5. Implement remote monitoring and management
Since most edge data centers don’t have staff on-site 24/7, remote monitoring and management solutions are critical. Look for a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution that provides the ability to monitor, manage, and troubleshoot IT systems from a centralized location.
6. Identify an experienced technology partner
Don’t try to go it alone. An ecosystem of partners is crucial to reducing the complexity of moving to a distributed system of edge data centers. Partners can help with technology decisions, installation, monitoring, maintenance, and support. This ecosystem can be tapped for sustainability efforts at the edge as well. A new special reportby 451 Research, reveals that many organizations face challenges with measuring and optimizing energy efficiency at their edge sites. Partners can provide input and resources to reduce energy consumption and curb emissions.
Download the network edge data center eGuide
For a deeper dive on all six of these recommendations, download our e-guide: “Best Practices to Deploy Sustainable and Resilient Data Centers at Scale at the Network Edge.” The e-guide will walk you through important decision criteria and help you evaluate the best approach for your edge data center deployment.
 Special Report, “Sustainability at the Edge – The Gap Between Enterprise Plans and Sustainability Programs for Core and Distributed IT,” 451 Research