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Navigating Edge Computing’s Boom with New Infrastructure Models

The rollout of 5G and pandemic-related societal changes led to unprecedented edge demand. New edge infrastructure models can help us understand its future

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Within the past several years, we experienced two significant events that have had massive implications on the future of edge computing. The first was a widespread rollout of 5G, which heavily relies on edge computing to reduce latency and unlock its other capabilities. The second event was a global pandemic, which has fundamentally changed all aspects of daily life, particularly how we work and go to school. The increased reliance on remote work, telehealth, video streaming, and online schooling led to an absolute boom in the need for edge computing. With many of these behavioral shifts likely to become permanent changes to our everyday lives, it is easy to see why the International Data Corporation expects spending on global edge computing to reach $250.6 billion in 2024.

In a new survey, Vertiv asked 156 industry professionals to provide insights into their company’s edge computing plans. For reasons including the aforementioned increase of digitalization and applications, about 59% of participants have already deployed, are in the process of deploying, or are planning for purpose-built edge sites. Additionally, participants project the percent of IT infrastructure deployed at the edge to grow from the current 21% to 27% in five years.

To better understand today’s edge deployment and solutions, it’s important to recognize some of the key characteristics and use cases of various edge sites. Four years ago, Vertiv shed some light on the subject with the release of its four edge archetypes: Data Intensive, Human-Latency Sensitive, Machine-to-Machine Latency Sensitive, and Life Critical. The archetypes were based on factors including latency, availability, and projected growth, as well as security requirements such as the need for encryption, authentication, and regulatory compliance. In the new survey, Data-Intensive use cases, such as smart factories and high-performance computing, were the leading growth drivers for edge technology.

Vertiv took this thinking a step further and recently updated its initial report by introducing a group of edge infrastructure models and research that provided a detailed and practical evaluation of edge use cases, industries, and environments. Using its initial archetypes as a baseline, Vertiv developed four practical edge infrastructure models to help organizations navigate the edge’s present and future. These models — Device Edge (e.g., smartphones, IoT devices), Micro Edge (e.g., retail or factory floor enterprise site), Distributed Edge Data Center (e.g., warehouse and office enterprise site), and Regional Edge Data Center (e.g., Tier 2 or3 city) — provide a roadmap for organizations planning new edge deployments.

This Edge Archetypes 2.0 report greatly advances the conversation and provides a practical and detailed taxonomy for common edge applications based on factors including location, external environment, number of racks, and the required power.

For organizations, these edge archetypes and infrastructure models are not just about understanding the current state of edge computing. They remind us that while no two edge sites are identical, these models can enable both customized equipment and design standardization. But perhaps most importantly, they also provide crucial information to make smarter decisions and faster deployments of edge equipment that optimizes site efficiency and meets service demands.

To find the right edge for your organization, view the full report here.

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