The network edge is in a state of transition and growth as organizations continue to support legacy Edge sites while deploying new purpose-built Edge sites.

The recent What’s your Edge global survey conducted by Vertiv sheds light on the current state of this transformation and how enterprises are planning for and managing their Edge resources.

The survey found that 41 percent of participants were supporting legacy Edge sites, and 59 percent had already deployed or were planning to deploy purpose-built Edge sites, resulting in a shift in IT resources to the Edge.

On average, 21 percent of participants’ IT infrastructure is deployed at the Edge today. In five years, they expect that to increase to 27 percent.

The survey also shed light on how businesses are using the Edge to improve operations. Reducing manufacturing equipment downtime and supply chain optimization were the most popular use cases driving edge investments.

Predictive maintenance was the leading use case cited by participants, followed by condition-based maintenance, supply chain management, and real-time inventory management.

Defining the “typical” Edge site

One of the goals of the survey was to identify the characteristics of the Edge sites companies are supporting and deploying today.

Of course, there is no one typical Edge site. The report Archetypes 2.0 deployment-ready Edge infrastructure models defines four Edge computing models, ranging from the device-level Edge to regional Edge data centers.

Using the models defined in the Archetypes 2.0 report, the most common Edge deployments today fall within the Micro Edge model — up to four equipment racks deployed at an enterprise site such as a retail store, factory floor, or network closet. Half of the participants were supporting or planning Edge sites that fit this model.

However, larger sites were also well represented. More than a quarter (29 percent) were supporting or planning sites with 5-20 racks and 13 percent were supporting or planning sites with more than 20 racks.

Managing availability at the Edge

Security, availability, and latency were the top challenges participants identified in designing and deploying Edge sites.

Availability expectations were generally high with more than half of participants (52 percent) defining resiliency levels for their Edge sites equivalent to a Tier I or Tier II data center and an additional third (33 percent) defining resiliency levels equivalent to a Tier III or Tier IV data center.

Design and management practices, however, did not always support these goals. Only 39 percent of participants used dedicated precision cooling to deal with the heat generated by Edge sites, even though more than 90 percent of sites are consuming at least 2 kilowatts (kW) of power — a threshold at which dedicated cooling is recommended.

In addition, less than a third (30%) were leveraging remote monitoring technologies to manage Edge sites.

Momentum building for integrated solutions

While there is currently a gap between Edge resiliency levels and some design and management practices, there are signs that enterprises are adopting strategies that will enable them to close these gaps, most notably the move toward integrated infrastructure systems.

Forty percent of participants were using or planning to use integrated rack solutions, often referred to as micro data centers, and an additional 20 percent were using or planning to use prefabricated modular data center systems.

These solutions can help close availability gaps while speeding deployment of new Edge sites. They arrive on-site IT-ready with power, cooling, and management technologies fully integrated based on the workload, availability, and environmental requirements of the application.

Read more about the current and future state of the Edge of networks by visiting the full survey report and prepare for your future growth by using Vertiv’s Edge configuration tool.