Ecosystems & The Edge: A Three-Tier Architecture

Sept. 15, 2021
Evolving edge strategies center on a multi-tiered architecture and distributed intelligence. A new special report courtesy of Iron Mountain looks at how the edge can help small data centers transform into full-fledged service providers and fuel digital transformation.

Last week we launched a special report series on how the edge can transform small data centers into full-fledged service providers. This week, we’ll take a look multi-tiered architecture and distributed intelligence as well as the global potential of ecosystems and the edge.

Get the full report.

A Three-Tier Architecture

Evolving edge strategies center on a multi-tiered architecture and distributed intelligence. A global end-to-end solution will have three components:

  • Public and private cloud services, internet exchanges and software-defined network platforms will consolidate data, provide ecosystem access and support large third-party marketplaces.
  • Core data centers will provide time-sensitive compute and data analysis services, inter- connection and cost-effective routing to public and private clouds.
  • Edge data centers will process data in motion, connect to internet service provider networks and deliver experiences to individual devices and users. Content delivery network caching servers connected by high-speed networks will facilitate data exchange with core data centers while supporting high-speed service delivery to endpoints.

This architecture limits round trips to the central cloud, thereby reducing latency. Edge data centers can support compute-intensive mobile services like autonomous vehicles and real-time fleet management without the latency and IT infrastructure requirements of a central cloud.

Edge nodes will be part of what the Linux Foundation called “an internet of systems, where devices serving different vertical applications need to communicate directly to exchange knowledge, autonomously and securely with no single point of failure.” Far beyond supporting just intelligent devices, these edge environments will enable new types of transactions. Driving this activity closer to the edge of the network and locating compute to deliver single-millisecond latency will reach new customer bases, particularly in remote regions and underdeveloped parts of the world.

Global Potential

Edge computing is usually framed in the context of improving what is already in place, but the bigger opportunity is elsewhere. Although people in developed economies take high-speed internet for granted, the reality is:

Even in areas with high internet penetration, bandwidth is often spotty and unpredictable, making the task of serving millions of users from cloud regions or zones with sub-second response times difficult to impossible.

These disparities won’t last, however, particularly with the impending arrival of large-scale 5G wireless deployments. Consumer devices of all kinds now come with IP addresses and people will want to connect them when bandwidth is affordable. Businesses will also want to connect their many sensors, environmental controls, factory-floor devices and other “always-on” equipment to management hubs and central control centers.

This will drive the explosive growth of many edge platforms into full-blown data centers, supporting transactions, e-commerce and interconnection. Ecosystems that were previously concentrated in major urban data centers will become more distributed and closer to the points at which data is collected and delivered. Regional servers will orchestrate clusters of devices and deliver data downstream to endpoints and upstream to the cloud over high-speed connections. Cloud regions will aggregate data from regional devices for analytics and planning.

This transformation can happen quickly. For example, India’s colocation data center market size is expected to grow 21% annually through 2025, at which time the Asia Pacific region will account for half of the global colocation market. The number of mobile banking users in India, Indonesia, the Philippines
and Vietnam is expected to grow 75% between 2019 and 2023, pressuring banks in those regions to quickly put into place distributed architectures that can scale rapidly. Companies like Web Werks, one of India’s top colocation data center providers, are aggressively building out their edge architectures with global partners like Iron Mountain to realize this opportunity.

Data Center Frontier’s Editor in Chief Rich Miller and executives from Iron Mountain discuss Ecosystems and the Edge. Watch on demand today!

Centralized data centers and cloud servers will evolve to become points of connectivity between cloud servers, endpoint devices and the partner ecosystems that enable digital transformation. They will be supplemented by smaller regional processing hubs that provide a subset of services focused on metro areas or even neighborhoods.

Regional data centers will provide multi-tenant colocation services in places such as stadiums and urban rooftops, delivering peering and interconnection services with extremely low latency to nearby customers.

5G networks will present a host of new business opportunities in the coming years as high-speed mmWave 5G service delivers wireline-like bandwidth to untethered devices. Widespread adoption of these latency-sensitive applications could overwhelm data center infrastructure that is unprepared to accommodate it.

Download the full report, “Ecosystems & the Edge: Where the Data Center Becomes a Transactional Marketplace” courtesy of Iron Mountain to learn more about how the edge can help small data centers transform into full-fledged service providers and fuel digital transformation. In our next article, we’ll take a look at the importance of interconnection and colocation. Catch up on last week’s article here.

About the Author

Paul Gillin

Paul Gillin is a speaker, writer and technology journalist who has written five books and more than 400 articles on the topic of social media and digital marketing. A technology journalist for 25 years, he has served as Enterprise Editor of the tech news site SiliconAngle since 2014. He was founding editor-in-chief of B2B technology publisher TechTarget, and served as editor-in-chief and executive editor of the technology weekly Computerworld.

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