Guest blog: It’s not your father’s network closet -- it’s an edge data center

June 23, 2016
By STEVEN CARLINI, Sr. Director, Data Center Global Solutions, Schneider Electric -- Over the last decade or so network closets have become more critical, because as companies move more of their in-house applications to cloud-based services, they count on the equipment housed in those network closets to keep employees connected.

By Steven Carlini, Sr. Director, Data Center Global Solutions, Schneider Electric -- The idea of a wiring closet or network closet came about because telephone lines in a building all had to go to a collection point in an old-fashioned PBX (private branch exchange) phone system. The PBX enabled employees at companies to share outside lines (assuming everyone was not on the phone at the same time). These closets were usually at the corner of the building or in the corner of every floor of multi-storied buildings.

Wiring closets remained unchanged for years until the Internet started to get popular and the closets started housing big gateways and routers for data networks. Once data network bandwidth and speeds started to increase, it became possible and popular to operate telecommunications or voice communications over these data networks, what’s known as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Companies started taking out their old analog PBXs and the name wiring closet was changed to network closet.

Related:The 5 most challenging network trends for enterprises

Over the last decade or so network closets have become more and more critical, because as companies move more and more of their in-house applications to cloud-based services, they count on the equipment housed in those network closets to keep employees connected. Power protection, battery back-up, cooling, environmental monitoring and remote management are all of paramount importance to ensure consistent, reliable access to business critical cloud services. Even employees working remotely are often routed through in-house VPNs supported by equipment in the network closet.

Today we are seeing the start of a new wave of technology inhabiting these network closets. Edge servers are being installed for data acquisition and processing for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Think security system monitoring with biometrics and facial recognition, which uses very high definition cameras and processes lots of data. Hyperconverged servers are being installed in these closets to run virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) applications, where 200 desktops or laptops can be replaced by a single 2U server.

I predict we’ll soon start seeing nearly every company install redundant public cloud applications that companies will locate on-premise in these network closets. So if your connection to the main centralized public clouds is lost or hindered by unmanageable latency, business as usual can still be a reality.

To learn more about edge computing in general and its applications to your business, please review Schneider Electric's free white paper, The Drivers and Benefits of Edge Computing.

Steven Carlini is the Sr Director, Data Center Global Solutions for Schneider Electric. Steven is responsible developing integrated solutions and communicating the value proposition for Schneider Electric’s data center segment including enterprise and cloud data centers. A frequent speaker at industry conferences and forums, Steven is an expert on the foundation layer of data centers which include Power & Power Distribution, Cooling & Technical Cooling, Rack systems, Physical Security, DCIM Management solutions that improve availability and maximize performance. Steven has been responsible for guiding the direction of many industry changing products and solutions that solve real customer problems or give businesses competitive advantages. Steven holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma, and an MBA in International Business from the CT Bauer School at the University of Houston.

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