As technology has advanced, people’s patience has declined. With smartphones and AI assistance, we have grown to expect everything instantaneously. We want the answer to any question given to us with a simple ‘Okay, Google,’ or the latest movie readily available on our phones while we wait for the next train to arrive. This must-have-it-now expectation can also be found in organizations across most industries. Fast, easy-to-access data, and the insights it provides, have become the norm in business operations, causing the tech industry to evolve rapidly in an attempt to meet this demand.

However, there is one major challenger to this demand — latency. Latency refers to the time it takes for a data packet to travel from its origin point to its destination. The type of connection that is being used plays a part in the latency. However, distance also largely influences speed. This is due to the fact that, no matter how fast the connection being used is, data has to physically travel between two points, which, of course, can take time.

Another factor is network complexity. This is the number of nodes and alternative paths that exist within a network, and it means that data doesn’t always travel along the same route. Data would be rerouted to other connections if the simplest route is unavailable, which can cause increased network latency.

Lastly, other increasing factors that can further complicate matters include the internet of things (IoT), as well as growing technology trends such as artificial intelligence (AI). These new technologies generate and process large amounts of data while simultaneously using massive resources to complete their tasks. This can clog up the bandwidth and data routes.

Living on the Edge

Despite all these challenging factors, hope is not lost. One way businesses can leverage IoT devices, AI, and other resource-intensive technologies, all while minimizing latency, is to utilize edge data centers.

An edge data center is a data center that is in local proximity to the user and can provide the compute, storage, and other resources for processing data. The location of the data center reduces the distance through which the data has to travel, thus reducing the latency.

In a recent data center survey, which included responses from 110 U.S.-based IT decision-makers, 91% of respondents stated that they are likely to select a data center provider that was located close to their users — demonstrating demand for this efficient approach.

The Joys of Edge Computing

Edge data centers also utilize edge computing, data processing that is completed at or near the source of the data, instead of relying on the cloud. This process helps to reduce costs for businesses because the more data that can be processed locally, the less that needs to be processed in a centralized or cloud-based location, which can cause bandwidth charges to add up quickly.

Several industries have seen the benefits of edge computing. For example, medical IoT devices powered by edge computing can access and process data quickly, which is key when rapid responses are needed in an emergency situation. Autonomous vehicle providers rely on edge data centers to provide data at a fast pace so that the vehicle can ensure the safety of its passengers as well as other motorists and pedestrians. Retailers use edge computing to enable real-time processing of supply chain systems without the costs and delays associated with data having to constantly travel back and forth to the cloud.

As technology advances and the demand for fast, easy-to-access data grows, edge data centers appear to be the logical way forward. Many industries that have begun to adopt edge data centers have seen the benefits of having data processed locally and decreasing reliance on the cloud.

About the Author

As Executive Vice President, Product and Services at US Signal, Amanda Regnerus has a talent for strategic development/alignment in the channel; attracting, developing, and empowering high performance sales teams; and developing marketing plans that deliver immediate ROI. She also possesses an exemplary track record (and reputation) of business-to-business solutions selling, account management, product development and marketing leadership with exceptional go-to-market strategies in both the IT and telecommunications industries.