Vertiv’s Martin Olsen Simplifies How to Think About the Edge

DALLAS, TX – The Edge is changing before our eyes, but we may not have seen anything yet, especially when you consider the advent of 5G. That’s why CapRE makes it a priority to understand where the Edge is headed next, and how it will get there. So at our recent Texas Data Center Summit, we organized a round-table about this very topic. And the conversation kicked off with some remarks about how exactly to structure such a big and exciting conversation.

“In the past, I have sat through a few meetings and panels. When the topic of the Edge comes up, I tend to fog out,” began Moderator Donald Mitchell, Data Center Division Manager, Victaulic, with a light-hearted chuckle. “It seems to go in a lot of directions and it can be a very lengthy debate.”

data center summit“However I recently had the opportunity to read about a structured way of looking at the Edge and today’s topic is Life on The Edge: The Advent of 5G, Micro Data Centers & Evolution of the Next Generation,” Mitchell mused.So in trying to give some structure to that, I really liked an article I read lately by [panelist] Martin [Olsen, Vice President – Global Edge and Integrated Solutions, Vertiv Co], which looks at the Edge as basically four architectural types of data. I’d like to start out with that. Martin, I’m going to hand it over to you – do you want to talk about these four architectural types?”

“Sure and thank you,” replied Olsen, before diving right in. “Much like in the large and medium data center space, there are many different ways to looking at how you provision for infrastructure, whether it’s from a redundancy standpoint or capacity, what you need to do with it, how many people need to access it, or how you access the business processes of the data that is happening in there.”

Martin Olsen, Vice President – Global Edge and Integrated Solutions, Vertiv Co

“For now, for several decades, we have used the tier classifications for large data centers, which is one way of looking at it,” continued Olsen. “What we found was that as it relates to the Edge, since it’s so ill-defined, the good news for all of us in here being focused on real estate and assets, the Edge is a location. It’s a place. There are likely to be hundreds of thousands of edge locations in some shape or form. They will serve a variety of different use cases from advanced manufacturing to autonomous cars to autonomous freight, smart cities, and content distribution, which is already happening now.”

However, according to Olsen, all of these all require different types of form factors and infrastructure profiles. “So what we did was we went through about a hundred or so of these use cases, from virtual reality to machine learning to smart retail to autonomous cars, and then we bucketed them, to simplify it all a little bit, into these four Edge archetypes,” he explained.

“We did so based on the latency required, the bandwidth, the level of connectivity and the data profile (in terms of, is it primarily one-way distribution of data or do you interact with it). The data may import or originate in other places,” he shared. “Because today, the state of the Edge today that is the most familiar to most of us is probably content distribution networks, where we’re pushing content out, and we’re consuming it in various places, be it mobile or on a fixed network. And that has certain requirements from an infrastructure standpoint. It’s usually storage-type of equipment out there, with low power, good fail-over in terms of redundancy. So we looked at a number of different attributes and came up with the four models.”