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Data center transformation

Edge Computing makes data processing more efficient and processes data streams on the spot, saving resources.

Transforming data centers across the globe

One thing is certain: data centers and the cloud have powered transformations for businesses right around the world, but now it’s their turn. In addition to evolving business models and processes, customer behavior and customer demands, the mobile Internet has also evolved the data center as a fundamental concept. Mobile connectivity – not to mention the new processes it has enabled such as autonomous driving – is built on highly networked foundations. Networks need to get much closer to mobile end-users. On the one hand, this means that networks will be connected with more data centers, and these data centers will also be interconnected. On the other hand, this development has paved the way for the deployment of edge data centers. This decentralization allows data to be processed as close as possible to the respective networks, enabling data streams to flow in real time, without any noticeable latency. 

But edge computing is still very new territory. It is clear, though, that in connection with cloud technologies, data processing and storage can be made more efficient if data streams are processed on the spot in a way that conserves resources. And edge services significantly reduce the volume of data being transferred, with corresponding effects on the data exchange process and transmission links. This, in turn, will cut waiting times and costs while improving service quality. For this reason and more, edge computing is considered to be the ideal architectural concept for the Internet of Things.   

A nuanced approach is required

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The combination of edge computing and cloud technologies makes it possible to process huge data streams on the spot while conserving resources.

However, the goal should not be to radically shift all types of data processing to edge computing. Rather, edge computing needs to fit the specific application and meet its IT requirements. Quite apart from anything else, companies do not want to forgo the benefits of the cloud, such as cost savings generated through synergies – especially in places and moments where doing so would make no sense.

This may sound like going around in circles, but in purely conceptual terms, edge computing would be the right approach in this situation, too. The basic premise is that the cloud and its computing capacity is brought closer to users, achieving latency of less than 10 milliseconds – but also unlocking the many benefits that the cloud undoubtedly has to offer. The use of public cloud solutions in companies around the world is constantly increasing and will continue to do so for a long time to come, for a wealth of reasons ranging from scalability, to agility, to flexibility in payment models such as pay-per-use.

Whether it’s infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for storage and computing, or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) as a cloud-based service approach for operating systems, database management, business analytics and more, the USA has once again been the first mover among users worldwide. In June 2020, a survey by Statista Technology Market Outlook found that public cloud applications will generate 39.9 billion euros in revenue in the USA this year. By comparison, second-placed China (4.8 billion euros), the UK and Japan (3.2 billion euros each) and especially seventh-placed Germany (1.7 billion euros) have a lot of catching up to do. But as the KPMG and Bitkom-led Cloud Monitor 2020 study concluded, more than one in five German companies is already leveraging the public cloud for IoT, with a further 30 percent of enterprises planning or discussing how to do the same. In addition to reporting consistently positive experiences with mobile access to IT resources, faster scalability and improved availability and performance of IT services, 24 percent of businesses surveyed had been able to lower their costs by deploying the public cloud – while generating added value in a far more sustainable way using globally available cloud resources.

In this sense, as Bitkom President Achim Berg concludes, “Digitization can be one of the keys to solving many of the most pressing environmental and social problems we face, while strengthening the economy and administration.” As far as Berg is concerned, one thing is certain: “The fight against climate change is an enormous challenge – and we will not be able to master it without digitization.”

Author: Thomas van Zütphen
Photos: Palmer Hargreaves

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