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Gangnam Style is a song by South Korean artist Psy that, in 2012, was viewed two billion times on YouTube. It is a textbook case of a video going viral. As such, it can be pointed to as a tangible reason for the rapid growth of edge datacenters. As their name implies, edge datacenters are located away from the main centers of the internet. They are built in so-called tier two markets, such as St-Paul, Minneapolis, or Phoenix, and serve to move the edge of the internet closer to users.

Traditionally, data was stored in hyperscale datacenters in cities like New York City, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. When browsing the internet, users from smaller cities connected to one of these hyperscale datacenters and streamed data over the backbone transport link between the two cities. However, with the advent of video streaming, cloud storage, and online gaming, the latency and bandwidth limitations of this system have forced providers to turn to edge datacenters.

Phoenix, Arizona is a great example of this trend. Prior to 2012, Phoenix’s 1.6 million people were served by a datacenter 350 miles away in Los Angeles [1]. When a video, such as Gangnam Style was viewed by Phoenicians, the entire file had to be transferred the 350 miles from LA. The next time it was viewed it had to be transferred again. This caused a huge amount of unnecessary traffic between the two nodes increasing latency, costs, and bandwidth consumption.

The creation of an edge datacenter in Phoenix solved this problem. Instead of having to transport the video from LA every time it was viewed, the file could be cached locally. Users experienced improved performance, while providers saved money that would otherwise be spent transferring the file. Intelligent systems at edge datacenters determine the files that are most popular in a given region, and dynamically cache them at a local edge datacenter to minimize traffic and transfer time.

There are difficulties to address when transitioning from a hyperscale to an edge model. For example, creating multiple smaller datacenters risks eliminating the economy of scale benefits enjoyed by hyperscale datacenter operators. Fixed costs and personnel cannot easily be spread over geographically dispersed sites, meaning that more operators, managers, and technicians must be hired per megawatt. Luckily, installing a DCIM is an easy way to help minimize these costs.

A DCIM streamlines maintenance processes and monitoring, while minimizing the human intervention needed to maintain a datacenter. This allows sites to rely on comparatively fewer employees, lowering costs and reducing the risk of downtime. For companies looking to operate competitively priced edge datacenters, using a DCIM solution is a must.

[1] BIG INTERVIEW: Clint Heiden, CCO, EdgeConneX. (2015, July 2). Retrieved January 09, 2018, from http://www.capacitymedia.com/Article/3467698/BIG-INTERVIEW-Clint-Heiden-CCO-EdgeConneX

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