ASHRAE, the US standard reference source for data center efficiency and reliability, has turned its attention to the emerging world of Edge resources.

The group's influential Technical Committee 9.9, which defines global standards for data center efficiency, has published a Bulletin on Edge computing design and operation, intended to help providers produce and manage systems whose reliability and efficiency approach that of centralized data centers. The new bulletin applies ASHRAE's expertise to new problems caused by the location of standard equipment in spaces which are not air-conditioned or protected, said Don Beaty, the first chair of TC 9.9.

Opening up the door...

"When we open the door to a regular data center, its surroundings are environmentally controlled: it's an indoor climate, said Beaty, in a video interview with DCD's CTO, Stephen Worn. "The same equipment that's in the data center is now in Edge computing data centers, but now we are opening up the door into a semi-conditioned or unconditioned space It could open into a warehouse or an outdoor climate. That's what's so important and exciting - data centers don't have this rush of environmental challenges for the IT equipment."

The publication of the groundbreaking Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments by ASHRAE's TC 9.9 in 2004 led moves to make data centers more efficient and reliable, and made the Thermal Guidelines a global de facto standard for improving performance, which has led to the deployment of many technologies such as economizers and free cooling. While that publication and its updates have focused on centralized facilities, the industry has been increasingly looking to deliver resources at the Edge where they can support low-latency applications. These micro-facilities now need guidance, said Beaty.

"Of all our books, this is the most impactful since the original Thermal Guidelines, " said Beaty. "I think it will become the de facto standard for Edge data centers. ASHRAE Technical Committee (TC) 9.9 has addressed the unanticipated risks associated with edge computing design and operation." The new technical bulletin, Edge Computing: Considerations for Reliable Operation, is available as a free download from the bookstore of data center guidance at ASHRAE (which was founded in 1894 as the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers, but has been a global body for many years)

“Edge computing can expose IT equipment to adverse environmental conditions that compromise reliability and uptime,” said Jon Fitch, lead author of the technical bulletin. "ASHRAE TC 9.9 has carried out years of R&D in collaboration with leading IT equipment manufacturers on best practices to mitigate these risks. I believe this publication is a trailblazing work that will serve as a blueprint for all new edge deployments."

Edge requires a much higher quantity of data centers, so Edge data centers can have a huge impact on reliability, and on efforts to save energy, said Beaty, and this also makes it harder to provide redundancy, and IT staff to ensure reliability. "If you design wrong, it's a failure in many places. It's a massive problem, and it's remote," said Beaty.

To read the bulletin click here