Data Centers: Growth and Investments in Edge Computing

Large-scale, industry-wide edge computing investments will change the face of the data center industry over the next four years.

The edge component of all computing will increase by 29 percent over this period, from 21 percent of all computing today to 27 percent in 2026. The progressive shift of the industry towards edge computing is one of the most significant Findings from Vertiv’s most recent global survey of data center industry professionals.

Around a third (34 percent) of the companies surveyed are either planning a comprehensive Edge rollout or are already in the middle of it. A quarter have established new, bespoke edge locations, and 41 percent are already operating existing edge locations. While activity at the edge is notable, respondents also expect a 150 percent increase at core locations and increased activity related to the cloud. According to the survey, the proportion of IT resources deployed in the public cloud is expected to increase from the current 19 percent to 25 percent by 2026. The demand for computing power in today’s networks is therefore increasing by leaps and bounds.

“In the next five years, the data center landscape will be redesigned as more and more computing power is relocated to decentralized areas. At the same time, core data center capabilities are being strengthened in modern hybrid networks,” said Martin Olsen, global vice president of edge strategy and transformation at Vertiv The only way to meet this need is to build out the network edge.”

Figure 1: Percentage of IT resources in different environments today and in five years.

The survey results follow the release of the report Edge Archetypes 2.0 – Ready-to-Use Edge Infrastructure Models late last year. This deepened Vertiv’s investigations into the network edge and identified four edge infrastructure models that enable a smarter, semi-standardized approach to edge infrastructure deployment. The results of the current survey align with the assumption in the Edge Archetypes 2.0 report, which showed that massive growth at the network edge requires a more standardized approach to edge architecture.

The survey also reveals the changing profile of the modern edge location. 29 percent of the sites have 5 to 20 racks, 13 percent have more than 20 racks. More racks require more power and the survey results reflect this: 28 percent say their sites require between 21 and 200 kW, and 14 percent have power requirements of more than 200 kW. Gone are the days when individual racks were stowed away in rudimentary IT cabinets.

Other important results of the survey:

    • Sustainability plays an important role in new and planned Edge implementations. More than three-quarters of sites (77 percent) are using or planning to use energy-efficient UPS systems. In addition, respondents plan to use renewable energy (40 percent), water-efficient cooling (31 percent), dynamic grid support technologies (29 percent), and low-Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants (19 percent).
    • Security and availability were top priorities for participants setting up edge locations. However, the survey also identified some current design and operational practices that could limit the sites’ ability to meet these goals. Especially if the number of these sites increases.

“Vertiv survey results show that companies are serious about expanding edge computing to meet anticipated demand. But building edge solutions can be complicated,” said Birgit Jackson, Director of the Integrated Racks and IT Solutions Business in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

“Enterprises need to consider software and hardware, management and orchestration, and more. Now is the time for companies to turn to a network of partners and vendors to implement edge solutions in a flexible and customized way.”

About the survey:

Vertiv surveyed 156 industry professionals about their companies’ edge computing plans. The full survey results are available in the What’s Your Edge? report. Survey Highlights Infrastructure Transformation Occurring at the Edge of Network available. Also available on Vertiv.com is the Edge Archetypes 2.0 – Ready-to-Use Edge Infrastructure Models report and a tool to help you identify the edge infrastructure model that is right for your location.