All the buzz today in networking is about being on the cloud. But for computing on the edge, micro data centers still have a big role to play.

Larry Dignan asks the right questions about micro data centers in this report published by ZDNet:

Micro data centers are essentially exactly what they sound like. They use racks and a much smaller footprint. Some of these micro data centers sit in cases that look like gun lockers. Others are mini racks with integrated systems. At a Schneider Electric conference in New York City this week, there was one mini data center design that sat in what looked like an entertainment center. Yes folks, in the future there may be a data center sitting in the middle of a store or bank branch.


We caught up with Kevin Brown, CTO of Schneider Electric’s Secure Power, to talk micro data centers. Among the key points:

What are the use cases? Retail is one use case because low latency compute is needed for everything from personalized marketing to IT on site to network resiliency. “Any situation where you need more resiliency on site can be used for micro data centers,” said Brown. In addition, micro data centers are more reliable and low touch so local staff doesn’t have to manage it. A local bank branch is another venue for a micro data center approach.

What about the cloud? Micro data centers are complementary to the cloud in many cases, said Brown. A micro data center can handle compute for localized data from devices, sensors and customers without shuttling it back and forth from the cloud. Costs are less expensive and latency is better, said Brown.

Energy savings. Micro data centers can be more efficient on power. Brown noted that one company moved compute offsite and still had higher power costs due to a network build out.

Micro data centers have a small footprint. The systems are engineered to be passively cooled and quiet. They can sit in the middle of an office and almost look like furniture. Cases and rack approaches depend on the environment.