Published April 25, 2023

And just like that, Data Center World is right around the corner. This year’s conference of data center managers will feature a panel discussion on the topic of Edge data centers that includes Ascent’s own Jeff Martin. As a critical facilities service provider, Ascent will be speaking from the point of view of an operator and facilities maintenance expert and will be focusing on the challenges associated with supporting computing at the Edge.

Simply defined, the Edge is where the app meets the network. Typically an unmanned facility, Edge sites can be either standalone or located within a larger facility. In either case, they help extend the reach of the core data processing functions taking place back at a data center, switch, or headend.

That said, most Edge sites look like a data center, except in miniature. They often are comprised of a handful of racks housing familiar-looking server and network gear and, from a facility standpoint, have similar infrastructure requirements as the facilities they extend. Usually an edge site has uninterruptible power, critical cooling, fire suppression, security, and monitoring systems.

Just because these critical components are at the edge, it doesn’t mean that they can be forgotten or their maintenance ignored. In our view, critical facility maintenance and operations standards are the same at the Edge as they are at the core data center. And with some of our users, maintenance of edge facilities is considered even more critical since they are on the “front line” of data exchange and computing.

One common misconception is that Edge sites are simpler or less expensive to maintain. While there certainly are fewer pieces of equipment, particularly on the mechanical side, all this equipment should be maintained at specified intervals and using the same or similar preventative maintenance schedules as equipment at larger facilities. In other words, there are still inspections that need to be completed by trained facility technicians.

When companies begin to develop their portfolios of edge sites either regionally, nationally or internationally, they discover that they do not have the people, processes, tools and vendor support network to adequately support them.

Fortunately, there is a solution and companies out there who can help. To learn more, check out the Data Center World panel discussion in room 10AB “Data Center World: Don’t Fall Off the Edge.” This session takes place on Tuesday, May 9th from 10:00 am to 10:50 am, and features industry leaders from Wesco Anixter, Rittal, Compass, and Ascent. We hope to see you there.