What benefits can Edge Computing bring to organisations?
The emergence of cloud, hype and media attention has put a spotlight on Edge as the industry’s next big thing and the enabler to our autonomous and connected future. In recent years, there has been a ‘decentralisation’ of data generation, and advances in new technologies and the IoT, fuelled by 5G, have driven the need for processing and storing data with location in mind – to the edge.
Edge computing puts more emphasis on the IT architecture and how it can be leveraged by the customer. For some organisations, it can unlock innovation, new services, new revenue streams and competitive advantage. For others, the rewards are less compelling and often the opportunity will need to be considered against existing investments, implications of change and risk.
Considering an Edge solution may present an opportunity to combine some parts of the ‘The Stack’ with hardware and services now sourced as one rather than individual components. It can be used just for a specific application, such as the work we have done for DellEMC, deploying Edge solutions to their customers in the development of autonomous vehicles in extreme environment locations.
Latency is often the key driver for an Edge approach. However with the improvement of technology and the global network infrastructure, this may become less of a selection factor, leaving the door open for other challenges, such as sustainability, to be addressed. For example, it is possible that Edge could be the answer to controlling the amount of data centre capacity we consume or need. Conversely it could make it harder to drive efficiency in the industry if solutions are geographically distributed.
Having data processed, stored and transferred potentially across multiple Edge environments, arguably increases the risk of a security breach. Given Edge can often be in remote locations, the physical security may also need to be more of a consideration, especially when sites are unmanned. However, conversely, the ability to silo infrastructure may provide the opportunity of greater protection.
Finally operational management of Edge is a critical consideration when deploying or utilising a solution as it inevitably places more emphasis on the ability to remote monitor your infrastructure. Technology is the key here, with AI and augmented reality presenting real opportunities to overcome regional skills and deliver quicker recovery time.
Once all of these considerations have been addressed, many organisations can certainly enjoy the benefits of Edge Computing, like decreased latency, better bandwidth management, and zero-touch operations which I believe are key to supporting new expectations of how people, businesses and things interact.