A traditional data center usually involves a large facility filled with a huge number of networked computer servers, all working together to allow organizations to store, process and distribute equally-large amounts of data remotely. A micro data center, on the other hand, serves an entirely different purpose. They're usually four (or less) servers grouped together in a single rack, all working together to solve different sets of challenges that don't require a larger-scale infrastructure.
Wireless carriers are using these micro data centers to keep up with not only what powerful modern day smartphones and other mobile devices are capable of, but also with regards to what their own users are demanding from them. A strategic deployment of a micro data center can be a perfect way to reduce network latency issues on wireless connections, for example, or to help reduce failures and downtime as more and more companies store mission-critical data in the cloud.
The Popularity of Micro Data Centers
According to an article published by Data Center Dynamics, both the Internet of Things and growth in the edge of wireless networks have been major contributors to increased use of micro data centers around the world. The micro data center market alone will be worth approximately $6.3 billion by as soon as 2020, up from just $1.7 billion in 2015.
The Internet of Things in particular is one of the major reasons why you're seeing more micro data centers pop up on a regular basis. When you have between 50 to 200 billion devices all connected both to the Internet and to each other (as there will be by 2020 according to Cisco), you're talking about a huge amount of data that is constantly being both transmitted and processed. Scalable solutions like the kind that micro data centers support become the best way to take advantage of concepts like the IoT without moving to a large scale facility.
As one might expect, micro data centers have a number of interesting implications when it comes to other wireless activities. A micro data center is not designed to replace the need for a larger data center, but rather supplement it. Again: it's a solution aimed at an entirely different problem, so the use of one does not negate the requirement of the other.
Essentially, micro data centers will become yet another essential part of a much larger ecosystem. Information will pass from large scale data centers to edge-based micro data centers and back again, with a larger deployment of fiber, small cells and DAS filling in potential gaps along the way. To end users, this should result in a seamless experience - regardless of how their needs happen to grow.
What You Need to Know
Every network operator, whether they work for a large telecom company or other wireless carrier or for a private enterprise, should know a few key things before deploying micro data centers in their own facility. Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that there is no "one size fits all" approach to the job you have in front of you - micro data centers as a concept are versatile enough to be anything you need it to be and it would be a shame to not take advantage of that.
Micro data centers need to be purpose-built. They can be anything from a single rack to multiple racks, but they need to be laser-focused towards addressing the types of challenges that it wouldn't make sense to use a larger scale facility to handle. Micro data centers are also available in three specifications - ISO container, skid mounted and enclosure, and all should meet the NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) standards for environmental and other harsh weather conditions.
In the End
Micro data centers are more than a trend. They're not a passing fad, waiting to be forgotten. They serve a legitimate purpose and bring with them legitimate benefits, but they're not all created equally. A project manager, or a representative for the owner of a particular business, will need to be present to oversee the build-out of a micro data center to help make sure the finished product is suitable for addressing the challenges you set out to solve in the first place. So long as you remember that micro data centers are intended to be purpose-built by their very nature, they will continue to serve you well for years to come.
To learn how Vertex can help you deploy micro or traditional data centers, contact us today.