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Edge Computing – A Contrast to Colocation

Featured image of edge computing server cabinets

Edge computing is an innovative strategy that moves data storage and processing closer to users and data sources. On the contrary, colocation utilizes a third party’s centralized area and data to share resources and space with our clients. Although it may appear that location differentiates the two, there are still many other distinctions that make them suitable for different uses and needs. 

In 2025, the world’s data creation is forecast to hit a new record high of over 180 zettabytes. Of course, this will inevitably increase the demand for low-latency and high-bandwidth applications. As a result, it paved the way for new and improved data processing paradigms like edge colocation. As the name implies, it combines the best of edge computing and colocation to address the drawbacks of both and provide a better and more convenient solution to customer needs. 

Rows of server cabinets used for Edge Colocation

What Is Edge Computing

Edge computing is a method that places data processing and storage at the network’s “edge,” where it’s closer to both resources and users. Since discovering the “edge,” edge computing has become a vital modern technology. After years of relying on huge rooms as centralized data centers, edge computing decentralized the processing across multiple edge nodes or devices to create local networks and servers. Since then, it has provided numerous functions and solutions to a wide range of users. 

Because it reduces the distance between data sources and users, edge computing has a faster response time, less bandwidth consumption, better security, and many other benefits. Since it processes data on-site, it’s highly reliable, provides real-time data, works efficiently on on-demand applications, and more.

Read Specific Use Cases for Edge Computing

Advantages of Edge Computing

Edge computing offers several benefits that make it an attractive and valuable approach in today’s digital landscape:

Reduced Latency

Edge computing reduces data transmission latency to centralized data centers by processing data closer to the source or end-users. This reduction in latency is critical for applications that require real-time data processing, such as autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, and immersive virtual reality experiences.

Improved Performance

Because data processing occurs locally, performance and response times improve, enhancing the overall user experience and allowing time-sensitive applications to function smoothly.

Bandwidth Optimization

By processing and filtering data at the edge, edge computing helps optimize bandwidth usage. The central cloud or data center receives only relevant or summarized data, reducing network traffic. As a result, it saves bandwidth and minimizes the costs associated with data transmission.

Enhanced Reliability

Edge computing improves reliability by reducing reliance on centralized data centers. This function guarantees the continuity of data processing during connection or network failures. Hence, edge computing is particularly essential for mission-critical applications that cannot afford any downtime.

Scalability and Flexibility

Edge computing makes it possible to scale applications efficiently as demand changes. This means that services and applications can be changed at the network edge without requiring significant infrastructure changes for the company.

These advantages of edge computing make it a compelling solution for various applications and industries. In today’s data-driven, interconnected world, edge computing can open new doors, boost efficiency, and improve user experiences.

Person looking at graph with edge computing text overlay

Use Cases for Edge Computing

Edge computing has been beneficial to many use cases, such as the following:

  • Autonomous or Self-driving Cars

Edge computing allows real-time data processing from the vehicle’s sensors. As a result, it enables cars to process information quickly, allowing them to avoid obstacles, make decisions, and navigate autonomously. 

  • Healthcare

It allows accurate data collection and processing from medical devices in real time. Additionally, it’s essential for medical devices that must monitor a patient continuously and aren’t reliant on network connectivity. Furthermore, edge computing can improve healthcare services in rural and remote areas by allowing faster access to patient information, diagnosis, and treatment. 

  • Manufacturing and Industrial

Edge computing can also improve efficiency and productivity in factories and industrial settings. It monitors operations, controls equipment and machines, and performs other real-time tasks. It’s also useful for energy efficiency monitoring, predictive maintenance, and more. 

  • Retail

It is also helpful in processing retail sensors and other applications, allowing faster and more accurate inventory management, better customer service, and even loss or fraud detection. 

  • Human Resources (HR)

Edge computing offers numerous advantageous use cases for Human Resources (HR) departments across various industries. One prominent use case is the integration of edge devices and sensors in the workplace to gather real-time data on employee attendance, well-being, and safety.

Edge computing also makes security more robust for organizations, reducing the amount of data transmitted and processed in the cloud. That means sensitive data are less vulnerable to attacks. HR departments from established companies can deploy more secure tools exclusive to the organization for employee queries, performance, and requests. 

  • Universities

Edge computing enhances a university’s capabilities in processing and analyzing large volumes of data significantly faster. For academic researchers and doctoral students, this means more frequent breakthroughs and innovation.

Edge computing also enhances Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities. By installing servers closer to devices, they can perform better. End users will experience reduced latency, while universities will benefit from less bandwidth consumption.  

Edge computing has become a significant part of many businesses and industries by processing data from sensors, cameras, machines, smart devices, etc. 

What Underlying Concept Is Edge Computing Based On

Edge computing is based on the concept of distributed computing. The idea is that instead of a centralized data center or central cloud, it distributes data processing and storage across multiple devices. Edge computing processes data closer to the “edge,” where the users and sources are. Since it’s not reliant on a central cloud for data processing, it reduces the number of “hops” the data must travel. As a result, it saves on bandwidth, makes real-time responses, performs better, and can function independently even with a poor network connection.

What Is Colocation

Colocation is the method of renting a space from a third-party colocation data center facility. It gives you access to the facility’s resources, infrastructure, and services other renters share. Colocation can be a more cost-effective and secure option than building and maintaining your data center. 

What Is a Colocation Data Center

Colocation data centers are huge facilities that house servers and resources many users share. These centers offer physical security, hardware maintenance, storage, servers, and other efficiency resources. Typically, space is rented per rack, room, cabinet, or area unit. Many companies and businesses prefer colocation, particularly if they need space to house the equipment and wish to avoid the hassle of maintaining network servers and infrastructure. 

Advantages of Colocation

Colocation has several advantages that make it ideal for many companies, such as:

Space and Lower Expenditure Costs

Of course, the most appealing colocation assets are space and cost savings. Whether you’re a startup, a small business, or a large corporation, space is valuable. Colocation provides space and security, power systems, cooling, etc., so you can save on overhead expenses.

Scalability and Flexibility

Because you can easily rent more space and add more applications, scaling as your business expands is also convenient.

Skilled Staff and Maintenance

Experts and personnel in data centers can help monitor and maintain hardware, equipment, and other systems to ensure everything runs at peak performance. 

Better Security

Security personnel can ensure that no one comes into contact with any of the company’s sensitive information or data. Furthermore, experts in data centers can also help design applications and network security to help manage risks and other cyber threats. 

Colocation is becoming a more popular option for businesses of all sizes – not just giant organizations. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a cost-effective, secure, and scalable way to host your data and applications. 

Use Cases for Colocation

Colocation is excellent for small businesses and large corporations requiring space and security for their tech infrastructure. Here are a few use cases that work well with colocation

  • Financial institutions

Financial institutions, such as banks that need an extra level of security benefit from colocation. Physical security and expert risk managers help protect clients’ personal information and the company’s assets.

  • E-commerce

Online businesses can thrive with strong connectivity without building additional infrastructure, cutting costs, and saving space. 

  •  Technology Companies

Many tech companies also use colocation to house high-powered hardware and other applications that require reliability and security. 

As the digital world expands and the need for connectivity of resources becomes more valuable, colocation will undoubtedly play a significant part in the future and evolution of data centers. 

Key Differences Between Edge Computing and Colocation

Edge computing and colocation have many key differences. Here are some of them:

Edge ComputingColocation 
Location and Proximity to End-UsersCloser to the end-usersA separate and distant area away from the end-user
Infrastructure and HardwareSmaller, more distributed data units or devices

Hardware is smaller, more efficient, and can be moved anywhere
Large and centralized data centers

More extensive and powerful hardware that can handle big operations shared by multiple users
Scalability and FlexibilityScalable as you can add resource requirements based on business needs

Flexible because it can be used to support a wide variety of applications
Also scalable since you can simply rent more or less space Also flexible because you can customize it on demand

Biggest difference is that colocation data centers can handle massive upgrades
Cost and MaintenanceTypically more expensive since it requires specialized hardware and software to process on the “edge”

Regular maintenance and updates can also be costly
It can be less expensive as multiple users can share maintenance costs

Users only pay for bandwidth and resources that they need
Best forApplications that require real-time processingApplications that require high availability and depends more on data storage than dynamic processing

What Is Edge Colocation

Simply put, edge colocation is edge computing implemented through colocation. It’s a combination of strategically located data centers and high-performance systems. Its edge data centers have eliminated the need for businesses to construct new facilities for their edge computing needs and have it handled by a third-party organization that offers colocation and edge computing services. Additionally, since the data travels a shorter distance because these data centers are located close to the end user, performance is also better and more efficient. 

Black colocation server cabinets that are edge ready

What Is an Edge Data Center

Edge data centers are smaller “colocation” facilities located closer to the network’s edge. An edge colocation data center is a type of edge data center that provides faster content delivery with minimal latency because it is located close to the population it serves. 

When choosing a data center, there are several factors you should consider aside from location, such as:

Save Thousands and Generate Millions in Revenue

For data centers, on the other hand, one way to ensure savings and smarter hardware expansion and footprint usage is to use optimization devices. One that allows your data center engineers to use all of your server rack units (RU) is through a Zero U Cable Manager

This server rack cabinet management tool allows you to replace the traditional 1RU or 2RU cable managers that use unnecessary space. For already established data centers, you can recover up to 30% of your rack units by installing a Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Shelf. That means you get to free one whole server rack cabinet for every three optimized cabinets to secure more storage, switches, and other devices without paying thousands of dollars. 

For edge colocation data centers where floor space management is paramount, Zero U cable managers are no longer a “nice-to-have” upgrade but a necessity. 

Side-by-side comparison of 1U and Zero U cable manager

Who Is Edge Colocation For

Edge colocation can be an exceptional option for companies that need high-performance applications or services for many users in a particular area or region. It can benefit organizations and industries looking to enhance their software and services’ efficiency, security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.

Use Cases of Edge Colocation

Here are some use cases that benefit from edge colocation:

  • Telecom

As we move to 5G, there is a greater opportunity to place network function virtualization (NFV) nodes further from antennas while keeping base stations near their communities. Instead of building a bigger server in one location, they can cut costs by creating smaller servers and distributing them to different areas. 

  • Bare-metal Services 

Meta’s bare metal offerings on edge colocation allow applications and services to run on physical servers at the network’s edge at a lower cost because you can rent space or pay by the hour. Edge colocation can offer high performance, flexibility, and more control.

  • Virtual Machines (VMs) or Containers

Edge colocation’s reduced latency, better connectivity, improved security, rapid scaling, and portability can benefit high-powered VMs and containers. For example, a gaming company could use edge colocation to host its game servers closer to end users. Of course, it’s expected to result in better connectivity and performance.  

Edge colocation is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years due to the increased use of the IoT, 5G, and the demand for greater security. 

Data Center Companies

There are already a growing number of data center companies worldwide. Here are some of the leading names:

  • Digital Realty

Another leading data center and cloud solution provider, it has a global footprint that connects over 310+ data centers across 25+ countries.

  • Equinix

Equinix is another global leader in data center and colocation services for enterprise networks and cloud computing. It has 248 data centers in 27 countries on five continents. 

  • NTT Communications

NTT Communications is a global provider of cloud, managed data center services, and IT solutions. They have over 200 data centers in 70 markets across the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

These are just some of the many data center companies around. When selecting an edge data center provider, it is critical to consider your specific company’s needs and requirements.

Should Your Organization Use Edge Colocation Services

As the amount of data used and created at the edge boosts, colocation at the edge is becoming increasingly crucial. Selecting the right data center is crucial if you think edge colocation will benefit your company. You also need the right equipment and configuration to maximize efficiency and space in the data center. 

Data Center Cabinets

The 5G revolution, Edge Computing and the demand for Distributed Data requires data centers to become greater in capacity and ability. This simultaneously increases the complexity and difficulty in managing the data center infrastructure.

The amount of data centers required for processing the exponentially increasing amounts of data for streaming, Al, AR and the Internet of Things (IoT) also puts a greater demand on capital expenditures. Companies must scale upwards quickly but efficiently with an eye on both performance and economy. lT executives are given a seemingly impossible task to expand services, improve efficiencies, manage the growth and stay within an already stretched budget.

All-in-One IT Cabinet by Rakworx with text overlay showing  benefits

Modular Data Center Solutions

In addition to precisely prefabricated, modular structures and components, these high-quality Modular Data Centers efficiently utilize natural air and an evaporative cooling system to help maximize productivity from the lT infrastructure. Intelligent power distribution systems help self-monitor and regulate all activities within the structure.

Find out more about Modular Data Centers

At AnD Cable Products, we understand these challenges. We offer everything your data center needs, from Zero U Rack Solutions to every type and style of cable you need. We can customize cables for your application and offer various other hardware solutions to help your business succeed and grow. When you are ready to upgrade your cables, make moves and changes, or even deploy a new colocation or edge colocation data center or edge computing center – contact us at (800) 394-3008 or click HERE for a FREE 30-day TRIAL of our Zero U Cable Managers.

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
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