Network closets used to be neglected and unprotected. Ten years ago, it wasn’t unusual to see network closets and small server rooms without UPS protection, let alone cooling. Today, network closets and other edge computing spaces are business critical, and IT managers are increasingly turning to dedicated cooling and real-time monitoring to protect them.

Vertiv recently conducted a survey of more than 400 North American data center, IT and facilities managers about the state of cooling infrastructure in edge computing spaces. Among the key findings in our 2016 Cooling the Edge Survey Report, 42% of respondents said the strategic importance of small IT spaces has risen in the past two years, and 48% said small spaces are now driving revenue within their companies.

When asked to list their priorities for managing small spaces, here’s how managers responded:

78% – Reducing risks
57% – Improving energy efficiency
43% – Cutting costs

Not surprisingly, top concerns in managing these spaces included:

52% – Insufficient cooling capacity
44% – Service and maintenance
35% – Insufficient monitoring of equipment

These priorities and challenges gain urgency when you consider how these spaces are cooled today. Nearly 60% of respondents said their smallest spaces – under 500 square feet – are still being cooled using building air conditioning or not being cooled at all. Those are not wise approaches for business critical operations.

As one manager put it: “Greater power over Ethernet and wifi support are drawing more power from network closets, and most of them need better ventilation, if not better dedicated cooling.”

Not surprisingly, 50% of managers said they plan to add dedicated cooling in small IT spaces in next 12 months.

Of course, better management of edge computing spaces requires more than just physical infrastructure. It requires monitoring and insight into room conditions. About 55% of respondents said they need greater visibility into the status of small IT space conditions and equipment, including temperature, humidity and alarm conditions.

Edge computing is growing, and Vertiv is putting substantial resources into making sure customers have the solutions to protect these spaces.