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March 20, 2018

Taking Data Centers to the Edge

The concept of edge computing is fairly new but easy to understand: when you put your data centers as close to end users as possible, data processing and storage become virtually instantaneous, bringing the power of cloud services right to your company’s door. As corporations have realized the value of having a distributed architecture of data centers located near data sources, investment in new edge data centers has exploded, growing at an annual rate of 27.6 percent. AEP has played a big role in the development of these edge computing data centers — because AEP is well-positioned to push power to the edge.

Moving data centers back to the source

Over the past 15 years, many large companies have moved their data processing operations from their premises to standalone data centers. Once centralized “in the cloud,” the growth of their processing, data storage and memory capabilities became unlimited, leading to more expansive concepts, such as Big Data and the Internet of Things. But now these huge centralized data centers are encountering barriers.

You can’t move data faster than the speed of light

For applications requiring instant data processing and transmission, edge data centers are the only answer. Ultra-precise, high-speed manufacturing devices and robots need to transmit and receive data at near-instant speeds to function. Looming technologies like self-driving cars and augmented reality will need to gather and process huge amounts of information extremely quickly. Even with fiber optic cable, it takes raw data 8.2 milliseconds to travel 1,000 miles. For many new applications, that lag time is an eternity.


Another problem: huge centralized data centers have become too big and mission-critical to fail — yet they can fail. Anything from minor power glitches, super-storm blackouts or malicious DNS attacks can disable a center. Edge data centers serve as safety nets. With the same high-availability data center services in a compact footprint, remote edge data centers can take over the core functions of a data center in emergencies.

Location, location, location

AEP’s role in the growth of edge data centers is our ability to put them in the middle of the action, while providing reliable, low-cost electricity to meet high demands. The AEP service territory spans 11 states, encompassing large markets and population centers, so edge data centers can be in immediate proximity to a business’ facilities. AEP can also provide power to more remote, rural areas as fail-safe backups, while providing distributed processing capabilities for centralized data centers.

A strong electrical backbone in favorable climates

AEP’s transmission infrastructure is among the most robust and modern in the nation, providing low-cost, reliable power — including fiber access, more 765 kV ultra-high voltage long-distance lines than all of the other utility companies combined, and renewable energy options to customers interested in sustainable choices. The AEP service area includes Midwest states with cooler climates, which keep data center operational costs under control: it’s one reason why AEP hosts so many data centers in Ohio and Indiana. And AEP’s service areas offer great economic climates for companies: business-friendly states featuring low tax rates, educated and skilled technical workforces, and low costs of living. AEP has a diverse portfolio of cost-competitive, build-ready sites that meet every requirement for constructing edge computing data centers.

Learn more about how we support data centers. 

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