Perspective on the Edge Data Center from Dell, Part 3

It can be hard to get a perspective on how companies are developing their edge data centers. Reading through the websites and listening to sales pitches talk about the current offering explains the current, but rarely provides a perspective.

One way to get a perspective is to look at what has been presented in the past. Thanks to Youtube it can be easy to find the history.

Here is one example from Dell's data center group.

Here is a video from 2017 with Ty Schmitt and Mark Bailey discussing their edge solution.

Now shift to 2018 and here is Mark with another video.

If you are looking at an edge solution check out the youtube videos from the edge data center team and watch what they have been saying over the years. These videos can provide a perspective that the website and sales person neglect to explain.

Networking the Wireless and Edge/Micro Data Centers, Part 2

Almost everyone in the data center industry is looking to move to the Edge. What is the role of the edge data center in the overall system? The answer comes when you ask what does the network look like in the future.

This video is from Cisco for its Intent Based Networking initiative.

Much of what Cisco markets is what the Telcos want for the future of its cellular network especially getting ready for 5G which is a market for the edge data center.

When you have a network strategy to transform your operations then it becomes clearer how edge data centers fit.

Starting a Series of blog posts on Wireless and edge/micro data centers, Part 1

In 2010 I wrote about containers being put at Cell Tower sites. Over the past couple of years there has been lots of excitement about edge/micro data centers.

one interesting pain point for why cell site IT infrastructure needs to be improved is the sites have a PUE of 2.0.

Cooling and the costs associated with facilitating and managing cooling equipment, according to studies from analysts and telcos worldwide, account for more than half of telcos' total expenses for operating their wireless networks. Global warming (which, from the perspective of meteorological instrumentation, is indisputable) is a direct contributor to compound annual increases in wireless network costs. Ironically, as this 2017 study by China's National Science Foundation asserts, the act of cooling 4G LTE equipment alone may contribute as much as 2 percent to the entire global warming problem.




China Mobile's breakdown of its annual capital and operational expenditures for maintaining one 3G base station. 

(Image: China Mobile)

To fund 5G deployments is a strategy to dramatically reduce the cost of cell site infrastructure.

Moving BBU processing to the cloud eliminates an entire base transmission system (BTS) equipment room from the base station (BS). It also completely abolishes the principal source of heat generation inside the BS, making it feasible for much, if not all, of the remaining equipment to be cooled passively — literally, by exposure to the open air. The configuration of that equipment could then be optimized, like the 5G trial transmitter shown above, constructed by Ericsson for Japan’s NTT DOCOMO. The goal for this optimization is to reduce a single site’s power consumption by over 75 percent.

What’s more, it takes less money to rent the site for a smaller base station than for a large one. Granted, China may have a unique concept of the real estate market compared to other countries. Nevertheless, China Mobile’s figures show that rental fees with C-RAN were reduced by over 71 percent, contributing to a total operational expenditure (OpEx) reduction for the entire base station site of 53 percent.

With the power consumption problem of cell sites and the drive to change the cell site hardware infrastructure to be cloud based supporting a range of 40km, how many edge data centers are needed for a given area?

Having fewer cloud cell sites supporting multiple towers looks like the direction. When I wrote about containers at cell sites in 2010 I also imagined a container supporting multiple cell towers.

Some people get excited about low latency being on the edge. Urs Hoelzle at one of the last Structure events made the observation that people are over estimating the business value of latency. Will users pay for sub 5 ms latency or is 10 ms fine. Light travels 300,000 meters (186 miles) in 1 millisecond.

A third option to when your frustrated waiting for a permit

Chris Crosby has a post on the frustration of waiting, fighting City Hall to get permits to build a data center.

Since 1 in 10 Irish jobs are provided by multi-national companies, and Apple certainly qualifies since you can pick up an iPhone in Astana, Kazakhstan, as easily as you can in Dublin, no one anticipated any problems as the planning and permitting processes commenced. Unfortunately, it was at this point that things began to go “off the rails,” as they say. As all involved soon found out, even a corporate behemoth is no match for a not so friendly planning appeals process. Apparently, two individuals stood fearless and undaunted in the face of what they felt was a corporate incursion that would change the nature of the town forever, and, using continual appeals as metaphoric speed bumps, thereby caused the entire process to drag on for three years.

Patience may be a virtue, but it also has its limits. It took Apple 1095 days to reach its limit before formally announcing the decision to end the project despite a personal visit from Ireland’s Prime Minister.

The Irish Times covers the specific that Chris mentions of effort by the Ireland Government to improve the process.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys expressed disappointment at the decision. She said the delays the project has faced have “if nothing else, underlined our need to make the State’s planning and legal processes more efficient”.
“The Government has therefore already been working, over the last number of months, to make improvements to those processes. This will ensure we are better placed to take advantage of future such investment opportunities, whether from data centre providers or other sectors,” the Minister added.

The problem with trying to improve the existing process is people spent a lot of effort to make the process the way it is, and it is assuming the process is right and it just needs to be made faster. As many of you know the process has many flaws which cause the delays as departments requirements conflict with each other.

An example of a conflict that illustrates what happens when you let a department make its own optimal decision is from the Polaris missile program development.

In each subsystem difficult technical problems had to be solved by narrowly focused specialist, and there was always the danger that the solution they would choose would be detrimental to the larger system. For example, there were a number of methods for launching a ballistic missile from a submarine, but each was a bit different in regard to crew safety and submarine detectability. Permitting the launch mode decision to be made solely in terms of launch efficiency could, of course, jeopardize the value of the entire system.
— "The Polaris System Development, Bureaucratic and Programmatic Success in Government" - Harvey M. Sapolsky

The third option is to introduce to system thinking. You may want the permit faster, but if the requirements are still in conflict, you lose in your build. What we need is a better way to build for the overall good of the City and User.