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Edge data centre operations challenged by exposure to the elements, ASHRAE bulletin warns

Written by Thu 24 Sep 2020

Extra precautions required to protect edge facilities in remote locations

Data centre efficiency and reliability standards body ASHRAE has released a technical bulletin addressing the environmental and sustainability challenges of small edge data centres.

Edge computing refers to infrastructure that stores and processes data closer to its source, outside of the enterprise or cloud data centre.

Why such an architecture isn’t exactly new, local processing is set to become more predominant as datasets increase in size and more latency-sensitive applications emerge.

Technology advancements are enabling a new class of edge infrastructure that boasts cloud-like capabilities. As ASHRAE notes in Edge Computing: Considerations for Reliable Operationexamples include modular data centres fabricated from steel shipping containers, prefabricated edge pods, small stand-alone brick-and-mortar data centres, phone-booth-sized enclosures that hold a single rack, or even very small enclosures that hold only one or two servers.

Compared to enterprise data centres where IT is located in fully-controlled environments, ASHRAE warns the proximity of local edge deployments to outdoor or uncontrolled environments increases the risk of the outside world damaging equipment when the outer door of the facility is opened.

Cold weather, air pollution, dust, and high humidity are all factors that could significantly impact IT equipment performance, reliability and even the manufacturer’s warranty if not adequately mitigated against.

ASHRAE says operators must be sensitive to infrastructure specifications and ensure facility enclosures are designed to support the narrowest of specifications, especially when facility doors are open.

Operators should also integrate Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM)-based remote monitoring of the environment to protect equipment and make sure temperature and humidity are monitored during servicing. Servicing should also take place within a temporary environmental containment unit to avoid condensation and the effects of extreme temperature changes.

“The hazards encountered by edge data centres are the same as those for conventional data centres, but the risk levels differ because edge data centres generally have a smaller count of IT equipment, a smaller physical enclosure size, and connectivity challenges associated with being remote,” the report concludes.

Written by Thu 24 Sep 2020


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