Edge computing centres are vulnerable to encroaching outdoor conditions

Edge computing centres put a cloud in a cabinet

Friday, September 25, 2020

Edge computing centres are proliferating in sync with escalating demand for digital capability and connectivity. The small installations that sometimes accommodate just a single rack or one or two servers are tagged as the next big advancement in data services, moving cloud capacity from large central locations to a myriad of smaller satellite nodes in closer proximity to end-users. However, they are also more vulnerable to the encroaching outdoor environment than are vast temperature-controlled data centres.

“Edge computing can expose IT equipment to adverse environmental conditions that compromise reliability and uptime,” says Jon Fitch, lead author of a newly released technical bulletin updating ASHRAE standard 9.9, Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments, and a member of the ASHRAE 9.9 technical committee. “ASHRAE TC 9.9 has carried out years of R&D in collaboration with leading IT equipment manufacturers on best practices to mitigate these risks.”

The bulletin, which is freely available for download, outlines environmental control measures to address cold, high humidity, dust and air pollution. These are applicable for a range of edge computing structures that could be prefabricated pods, fashioned from steel shipping containers or bricks and mortar construction. Many are as a small as the once-prevalent phone booth.

“What these examples all share is a close proximity to an outdoor or semi-controlled environment such that opening the outer door of the data centre could dramatically impact the temperature, humidity or inlet airstream reaching the IT equipment inside,” the technical bulletin states.

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