Thursday, October 6, 2022

How Edge Data Centers are Used by Comcast, TED, Goodwill, Georgia Tech, Zaxby’s, Villa-Tech, and Afterpay: Case Studies

As more organizations move to the cloud, data centers play an increasingly important role in business. Now the cloud is transforming, as many companies find traditional cloud environments are no longer sufficient for their needs. Edge computing, and edge data centers are becoming the new standard in many cases.

Organizations’ data storage, compute, networking needs are rising rapidly. Conventional data centers help offload on-premises resources, but their remote locations can introduce latency and reliability issues. Edge computing brings the cloud closer, using a network of smaller, more local data centers and distributing compute demands across devices.

Given these benefits, experts expect the edge data center market to nearly triple in value by 2024, reaching a worth of $13.5 billion.

Here are seven case studies on how edge data centers are benefiting some of leading organizations in different industries:

1. Comcast

Comcast is one of the most familiar names in internet services. As such, it faced tremendous expectations when upgrading its business customers’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Keeping the system on-premises would mean completely rebuilding existing data centers, introducing substantial costs. Scaling over time would incur similar expenses, thanks to the considerable infrastructure needs. Edge computing provided an ideal solution.

Comcast partnered with EdgeConneX to develop an edge computing system to connect Comcast’s clients directly to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Software-defined networking (SDN) helped reduce on-premises needs as distributed, local computing prevented the need for larger data centers. As a result, the new ERP solution offered improved connectivity and scalability while keeping costs manageable.

Both Comcast and their initial ERP customer saw improvements after implementing the new edge solution. The end user reduced latency, reduced ongoing costs, and improved network consistency, while Comcast saw increased revenue from other customers seeking similar systems.

Industry: Communications

Edge data center product: EdgeConneX

Outcomes:

  • End user reduced latency by more than 50%
  • Comcast’s monthly revenues increased by 10 times
  • Net operating costs fell
  • Avoided having to rebuild on-premises data centers

2. Zaxby’s

The restaurant industry may not be the first sector that comes to mind when thinking of network technologies, but it can benefit from edge computing, too. Zaxby’s, a fast-growing fried chicken brand with locations across the U.S., is a leading example. When the chain needed to move its disaster recovery (DR) site, edge data centers emerged as a clear answer.

With more than 900 locations to manage, DR is a crucial consideration for Zaxby’s. Moving its DR data center closer to its Athens, Georgia, headquarters was a necessary step to ensure it could maintain network uptime in an emergency. However, conventional infrastructure would incur high costs and may not perform well in an actual disaster.

Edge data centers let the chain create a new DR site closer to headquarters while staying out of the way of weather-related risks. Edge computing’s distributed compute features would also help ensure mission-critical processes continue even if some infrastructure was compromised.

Opting for these newer data center technologies also helped Zaxby’s reduce operating costs. And lower infrastructure needs and complexity made it easier to access technical support.

Industry: Food service

Edge data center product: DartPoints

Outcomes:

  • Halved disaster recovery costs
  • Increased network resiliency
  • Enabled 24/7 network support

3. Afterpay

Financial technology (FinTech) has thoroughly disrupted the banking industry, with companies like Afterpay leading the charge. As one of the world’s most recognizable buy-now-pay-later providers, Afterpay’s networking and compute demands are substantial.

Afterpay’s platform must calculate creditworthiness in near-real-time for its customers across the world. Working on mobile devices with potentially limited connectivity further complicates things. When the company experienced a 289% year-over-year growth in sales on its platform, it knew it needed to bolster its IT environment.

Edge computing was a natural choice, as there’s no data transmission required in many cases. Logic happens at the source of the data. As a result, switching to an edge network lets Afterpay reduce its latency and improve performance for its rapidly expanding customer base.

Strategic edge deployments also improved operations for Afterpay’s growing number of employees. With less latency and faster results, IT teams could resolve issues and monitor networks faster and more effectively. Moving to a distributed computing environment also helped improve the company’s scalability, a crucial factor in an industry as quickly evolving as FinTech.

Industry: FinTech

Edge data center product: Digital Realty

Outcomes:

  • Quicker access to cloud resources for 450+ employees
  • Reduced latency for both workers and customers
  • Created a simplified and more scalable experience

4. Villa-Tech

Considering edge computing is an extension of the cloud, it should come as no surprise that edge data centers can benefit cloud services providers, too. Villa-Tech is one such provider, offering services like software-defined networking, cybersecurity surveillance, and software development to its clients.

As Villa-Tech expanded, it saw an opportunity to expand its reach and services in edge computing. The edge would enable it to provide the flexibility of public cloud solutions while maintaining the control, security, and performance of dedicated private infrastructure. It would also open the door to new business opportunities for B2B clients seeking lower latencies and increased performance.

Villa-Tech partnered with American Tower to enable this expansion. As the companies built a new edge network, Villa-Tech saw a 60% growth in the edge data space. Now, the business is focusing on delivering a security and agility software stack into edge environments.

With this new edge infrastructure, Villa-Tech can reach more clients and raise its product promises higher. The edge’s speed and reliability increase the efficacy of security monitoring and software-defined networking services, which make up some of Villa-Tech’s most important offerings.

Industry: Cloud services

Edge data center product: American Tower

Outcomes:

  • 60% growth in edge data in six months
  • New product offerings for customers
  • Reduced latency and increased network uptime

5. TED

Media companies can also capitalize on edge data centers, as was the case with TED. While the company’s popular TED Talks were once only available in-person, they pivoted to move all their content online as internet video media took off. As this became the company’s focus, its network demands required a change.

TED’s original network offered just 250 Mbps for office workers, which became an issue as the company began transferring larger video files. A large transfer would interrupt connectivity for most employees for minutes at a time. While TED needed to capitalize on online services, it needed a way to do so that didn’t interfere with other office operations.

Edge data centers offered more bandwidth for less money than a conventional on-premises or remote cloud setup. Smaller, distributed colocation data centers gave TED the speeds and latency they needed to upload and transfer large files without interrupting other workflows. These resources now let TED’s teams remain productive even at peak demand hours.

Industry: Media

Edge data center product: 365 Data Centers

Outcomes:

  • Created a low-latency, 2 Gbps network
  • Enabled video transfers in near-real-time from eight high-definition cameras
  • Improved office productivity

6. Georgia Tech

Higher education is another industry with significant data demands. Providing enough speed, performance, and security for thousands of students and faculty is a challenging task with conventional infrastructure. Edge networks’ distributed compute abilities make them an ideal solution.

The Georgia Institute of Technology recently capitalized on that potential. The university dealt with billions of files and petabytes of data on a daily basis and sought to build a high-performance computing cluster (HPCC) to manage it all.

The sheer computing power needed for HPCC operations requires significant cooling infrastructure and space management in conventional data centers. By distributing these processes across multiple systems, edge computing can reduce those requirements. As a result, Georgia Tech researchers can perform more complicated tasks without as high costs.

The Georgia Tech solution consists of several smaller data centers, each serving unique needs. Data can flow between them easily and quickly, providing sufficient compute speed while managing network strain.

Industry: Education

Edge data center product: DataBank

Outcomes:

  • Built a cost-effective but reliable HPCC solution
  • Increased network backup capacity
  • Mitigated cooling and infrastructure requirements while maximizing computing power

7. Goodwill

A perhaps more surprising case study for edge data centers comes from Goodwill. The nonprofit’s central Texas chain of stores previously relied on a conventional on-premises solution, but this didn’t fit their needs for several reasons.

First, conventional on-premises data centers came with high infrastructure needs and costs. Second, the organization needed a more reliable disaster recovery plan, which required something more resilient than a large in-house data center. Finally, Goodwill lacked the technical skills and staff to manage their growing network with the same setup.

Transitioning to an edge environment solved each of those challenges. Goodwill was able to migrate with zero downtime to a managed edge network. Using smaller data centers also provided more reliability and uptime while minimizing the organization’s data footprint.

Using this edge system also reduces IT management needs on Goodwill’s side, helping their employees focus on their core workflows. Using a distributed system also helps keep related costs low.

Industry: Nonprofit

Edge data center product: LightEdge

Outcomes:

  • Migrated to a managed system with zero downtime
  • Enabled more resilient disaster recovery
  • Reduced infrastructure and in-house IT needs

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