Originally posted to Data Center Frontier

The Setting

For many years, the data center industry visionaries predicted that 2020 would bring us the ultimate data world: 5G everywhere, 8K video streaming, billions of interconnected devices in a massive Internet of Things, self-driving vehicles, and more.

The promise of this ultimate data world drove these same visionaries to predict the need for tens of thousands of small edge data centers installed at the edge of the internet – mainly at the foot of every cell tower and on many street corners.

This predicted demand triggered a rush to bring edge data center products into the market. This drove the decision-making process to focus on form factor and speed to market.

This focus led to these questions: “how do we fit the most equipment into the smallest space possible?” and “how do we get this product to market quickly?”

In contrast, the decision-making process used for very large colocation and hyperscale data centers considers many elements down the fine details. These elements include providing flexibility for a wide array of power density requirements, planning a resilient power distribution solution, devising an efficient and effective cooling solution, building a robust and safe building, delivering the operation and maintenance of the data center systems, and more.

In edge data centers, these elements are often relegated to the simplest solution or the smallest form factor. The element often given the least consideration is the cooling solution.

There may be five or ten or more different cooling solutions considered for a colocation or hyperscale data center, where only one is considered for an edge data center. This is often an afterthought, which is why in most cases, ‘attachment’ type solutions are sought after, as opposed to ‘integrated’ type solutions.

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