What does it mean when an organization refers to the ‘edge’?
The edge can mean many things
In principal, the concept is the renaissance of the old model of decentralised, distributed IT which we moved away from as operators found efficiency through operation of larger-scale facilities and consolidated their data center footprint. Now, companies are seeking to leverage new services such as the Internet of Things, or they want to provide better consumer services and push out or pull data in from mobile devices with agility and speed. This can lead to high amounts of data growth and create new bottlenecks in the network. The current concept of ‘edge’ is now based, as a result, around the need to limit latency, to reduce network congestion.
The edge is also the physical point where data is integrated, so where connectivity takes place – carrier neutral, or carrier-specific connectivity services, for example such as cross connects, cloud exchanges/direct connects, even peering platforms. It can also be a telecommunications gateway – the entry or access point for local networks, WAN and to cloud computing and other IT service environments.
One additional benefit that’s been realised is a function that ‘edge’ can play in allowing for data residency requirements. For example, a company may have its main IT presence in London, in a large data center, but require a much smaller presence in Frankfurt for data sovereignty requirements. For this company, Frankfurt may be its ‘edge’ regardless of the type of data center its estate is located in or its workload purpose.
For many companies, the IT edge can mean different things, it can be a micro-modular data center on the factory floor, a rack in the office, or increasingly an intermediary between local and national resources that helps shorten the route to heavily used resources, while providing better access to services on demand.
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