Top 5 Challenges in Edge Computing

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Surge in Global data traffic
  2. Edge Data Centres to the rescue
  3. Challenges in connecting edge data centres

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

How has the Global Data Traffic Surged?

The global data traffic is on surge amidst increased usage of applications like video conferencing, video gaming and streaming – all this to flatten the curve of COVID19.

Moving ahead, as the transformations towards advanced technologies like 5G and IoT take place, the data traffic is expected to grow in the years to come. Global mobile data traffic is forecast to increase to 160 exabytes per month in 2025.[1]

Edge data centres come to the rescue as they are capable of analysing and processing data (on-demand and with the lowest latency rate possible) near the location where it is generated instead of being processed in a more distant and centralized data centre.

Owing to an exponential rise in data traffic, CSPs’ investments in edge data centres across the globe have considerably increased. Vendors are focusing on the development of new edge computing platforms to help enterprises improve their data management capabilities at the edge of the network. These combined factors are fuelling the growth of the global edge data centres market.  The market is poised to grow by USD 5.90 billion during 2020-2024.[2]

It will not be wrong to say that edge data centres are being witnessed as self-contained, stand-alone rack-level systems at the edge—as the means to gain a competitive advantage.

Edge data centres require the same resiliency as cloud or centralised data centres do. But they lack two important aspects – the absence of skilled and trained onsite staff and multiple, distributed sites. This could lead to some unique challenges that require data centre developers to think holistically and collaboratively while deploying IT solutions.

What are the Top 5 Challenges in Connecting to Edge Data Centres?

  1. Cost matters – Edge data centres require configuration, deployment, and maintenance of edge computing framework, which is quite expensive. Many of the older version devices lack processing capabilities, and integration of newer additional devices leads to extra CapEx.
  2. Loss of critical data is detrimental – As edge computing processing utilises a subset of data, a whole lot of raw data goes unutilised. This wasted data, otherwise, could have been insightful. There is a daunting challenge for enterprises for data segregation so as to improve efficiency and eliminate data loss.
  3. Physical security is a must – As edge data centres are located near people, there is much required for a profound physical security solution so that any unwanted security breaches could be avoided.
  4. O&M needs to be strategic – Operating and maintaining multiple edge data centres remotely comes along with unique challenges like IT troubleshooting, performing system and security upgrades, standardising maintenance services across multiple locations.
  5. Right selection and configuration of infrastructure components –Selecting and configuring the right infrastructure components can be quite a complex task. The slightest of error, if not identified at an early stage, could propagate to numerous installations. This could lead to undersized or oversized UPS and insufficient or spare rack space.

Edge data centre developers need an ecosystem of partners who could work together to mitigate these challenges and build data centres that include the right set of IT, infrastructure, and management tools.


[1] https://www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report/reports/november-2019/mobile-data-traffic-outlook


[2] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200225005811/en/Edge-Data-Center-Market-2020-2024Increase-Mobile-Data

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data. This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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