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
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
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