Micro Modular Data Centers: Taking Computing to the Edge

I remember the times when fragmented data centers were consolidated into gigantic central locations to facilitate management and reduce cost. The good old times. During the last 20 years, data center consolidation has been the norm for governing and controlling applications, security and infrastructure.

By 2022, analysts predict that 75 percent or more of enterprise data will be created and processed outside traditional data centers, which is a big jump from today’s 10 percent. What changes are driving this shift? The immense explosion of data generated by machines and people, and the demand for immediate access and insights into this data. This burst of data is often created in remote locations far from centralized data centers, creating increased latency and conflicting with the need for real-time content and insights.

As noted in our blog last week, the solution is to bring computing closer to where the data is generated, and to process information immediately when real-time decision making is necessary. This is called edge computing. Edge computing ranges from simple processes like filtering data before sending it to the main data center via gateways, to more complex low latency event/content data processing that requires sophisticated computing, storage and networking.

This blog focuses on edge-clusters, which are mini data centers with sufficient computing power to aggregate and process data separately from centralized data centers. Let’s call them “micro modular data centers” (micro MDCs).

The Dell EMC micro MDCs coming from the Extreme Scale Infrastructure (ESI) team are self-contained units that can feature power, cooling, gateways and can host up to several racks of IT. They are designed with the security, environmental and performance capabilities to be placed in remote locations where real estate space is limited, like at the base of cell towers or in remote unmanned locations. Many of our micro MDC customers want consistency in the infrastructure – whether in their centralized data center or at the edge – so we developed micro MDCs to be flexible enough to host a variety of servers, including PowerEdge servers and our DSS 9000 rack scale infrastructure.

Dell EMC micro MDCs are also designed to withstand demanding environmental and security challenges and include both AC and DC power as well as different power configurations. Cooling options include DX (direct expansion) with economization or chilled water. Many micro MDCs can be part of an extensive edge deployment that include several modules. With these broad environments in mind, we designed our micro MDCs with a command center platform option, MDCi, where users can monitor the performance of each module and set alarms if a parameter is outside the norm.

As the transition from centralized to distributed computing takes place, ESI is leveraging its hyperscale expertise and applying to edge deployments via fully functional micro MDCs. If you’re wanting to discuss your edge initiatives, learn more here or contact us at ESI@dell.com.

About the Author: Rafael Colorado

Rafael Colorado is a product director in Dell EMC’s Extreme Scale Infrastructure division. Rafael leads a group responsible for defining and managing products and solutions for scale-out markets that are rapidly shifting towards cloud-based architectures. Rafael earned an Industrial Engineering degree and holds an EMBA from the University of Illinois. His previous experience includes Motorola where he led a product marketing and strategy team and Colgate Palmolive in different marketing roles. He also funded a successful technology startup company.