Networks Europe Jul-Aug 2019 - Page 37

5G NETWORKS Powering the change Naturally, these clusters of containerised data centres will only be able to function if they have a stable and continuous supply of electricity. In that respect, they’re no different from any hyperscale or colocation facility. For this reason, every micro data centre will include an uninterruptible power supply to ensure essential backup is available if and when there’s a problem with the mains electricity supply. Obviously, space in an edge data centre is at a premium. The traditional sizeable standalone tower-style UPS – think the big black box in the server room – isn’t particularly suitable. Technology has improved considerably in recent years though, leading to the development of compact modular UPS, which are the ideal choice for micro facilities. Modular power supplies deliver exceptionally high-power density in a compact footprint. The modular principle is that you basically add individual power modules to build up to your required capacity, ensures the UPS system closely matches actual load requirements, minimising the risk of wasteful oversizing at initial installation. This theory also extends to scalability. If load requirements go up or down, operators can simply add or remove power modules and battery packs as needed. Compared to older static UPS, modular systems deliver several other benefits too: to start with, they don’t need a bulky transformer, meaning they have a much higher operating efficiency, they’re smaller and lighter so produce less heat, which means expensive air conditioning isn’t as important, and each individual power module is hot-swappable, so interruption-free maintenance is guaranteed, even if there’s a component failure. Death of the data centre as we know it? As we head into the era of 5G, is it time to start writing the obituary for traditional enterprise data centres as everything shifts to the edge and compact, containerised solutions? That’s too simplistic a take for my liking. It’s true that edge will undoubtedly have an instrumental role in years to come – that’s why Gartner predicts 75% of all data will be processed at the edge within the next five years. For perspective, the current figure is just 10%. But there are plenty of tasks where having the processing power close to the data isn’t quite as important. Non-time- sensitive activities such as performance monitoring, general storage, and trend analysis, to name but three. That’s where a centralised data centre or the cloud still has a part to play, leaving containerised micro server rooms as the metaphorical ‘boots on the ground’ that turn the dream of real-time processing into a reality. n Discover the Edge. Smart Solutions. Real Business. 37