Timothy Miscovich, Chief Commercial Officer at WTEC, walks readers through a series of strategies for effective data center management at distributed computing continues to make an impact on the data and colocation business. 

Timothy Miscovich, CCO of WTEC Inc.

More than ever before, we see the impacts of distributed computing. More remote users, more applications and services being access offsite, and even more reliance on modern digital infrastructure systems are all factors pushing us closer to the edge of compute.

A significant part of this distributing comping overhaul is supported by both core and edge data center facilities. It’s the latter that helps people connect, experience less latency, and be even more productive. Remote data centers and edge computing have become massive investments to help more businesses and people connect.

How big will this market become? According to the new IDC Edge Spending Guide, the worldwide edge computing market will reach $25.6 billion in 2024. In speaking with numerous data center and technology leaders, one of their challenges revolves around managing all of these remote systems. It’s not as much the rack and server management as it is the lights, HVAC systems, and other supporting solutions. The biggest headache? Too many devices, too many IP addresses, and too much management complexity. So, many leaders fall into simple automation that doesn’t solve the root of the problem. That is the practical and intelligent management of smarter devices. So, if your device has ‘smart’ capabilities, why limit visibility and control?

A Brighter and Simpler Core and Edge Data Center

The smarter your data center, the easier it can be to manage. That is, of course, if you know how to connect all of these pieces. Often seen as the loner in the mix, lighting systems have quickly become a core component of the smart data center. As part of their modernization efforts, leaders in the technology space are looking at more effective ways to control the infrastructure’s core parts, both centrally and remotely.

For example, connected components like lighting systems with open APIs and better integration options can create automated sustainability by leveraging smart data center systems. So, you’re not only turning lights on and off; you’re also using data to understand the surrounding environment data and how people interact with rooms, facilities, cages, and more.

Looking at the edge and distributed computing examples, you can significantly simplify the management of remote components by integrating them and allowing them to make infrastructure efficiency decisions for you. For example, intelligent lighting systems capable of API and BMS integration can autonomously manage both centralized and edge HVAC systems. So, for edge data center office spaces, open areas, and so on, you can leverage motion data from sensors to engage or disengage the HVAC system as needed. In some real-world use-cases, that has demonstrated upwards of a 30% energy savings on HVAC spend.

All of this translates to a more connected distributed compute platform that operates on creating efficiency. This level of interconnectivity will add up when it comes to savings in managing remote infrastructure.

Soon, there will be tens of thousands of new edge locations in the United States. Some argue that even more are just around the corner.

Key Management Points

When designing remote or edge data center solutions, it’s essential to simplify the architecture as much as possible. For example, you could deploy smart lighting that has an IP address at every drop. Or, you could deploy a smart lighting system that has a centralized device, with one IP address that manages all other lights on that floor. From there, within a centralized, web-based management console, you can control, integrate, automate, and manage your local as well as distributed devices. Further, you can also monitor the integration of various APIs and BMS and ensure their effective utilization. The cool part here is that you can cluster management all devices under one director allowing control of small edge deployments alongside data centers that are 100K or more in square feet.

These types of lighting systems go way beyond helping ensure lights are on and off. Smart sensors embedded within the system collect real-time data on motion, temperature, brightness, power consumption, and bi-directional BLE beacons. Environmental sensors also collect humidity, air quality, and pressure in real-time. This creates a lot of useful data where actionable steps to improve efficiency are much easier to take.

Finally, it’s important to touch on remote infrastructure, devices, and security. Working with devices on an active network can make anyone nervous. The first step is to ensure proper network segmentation through VLANs, port-tagging, and network isolation. From there, it’s essential to work with smart data center components, like lighting systems, and find where you can create further efficiencies.

As it relates to alerts, alarms, and management when deployed at the edge or core, intelligent lighting and management systems are capable of alerting based on hardware status, security, temperature, movement, and more. These can be reported via push notification, alerting facility managers.

Finding Remote Efficiency with Intelligent Lighting

Soon, there will be tens of thousands of new edge locations in the United States. Some argue that even more are just around the corner. When lighting up these locations, know that you can work with something as simple as an on and off switch. Or, you can leverage systems that go far beyond motion sensing. Smart systems that work with lights within the data center offer real-time occupancy and usage metrics, heat maps, data exports, API integration, advanced visualization tools, and even data-driven analytics. What’s really cool is that you can automate numerous functions further to improve visibility, management, security, and efficiency. Savings like 30% less spend on HVAC very quickly add up as you have more locations. So, beyond just easier and centralized management, you’re also saving a lot of money by creating smarter efficiency.

Looking ahead, there are a lot of knowns in our industry. We know that more people are connecting. We also know that IT and technology distribution is happening. We will see more data halls, edge data centers, and primary locations being built to support all of this. As a critical consideration, be sure to think about how you’re lighting up these locations and what you can do to create a brighter technology ecosystem that’ll power some of your most critical operations.

Timothy Miscovich is the Chief Commercial Officer at WTEC.