Edge computing is one of the biggest expected areas of growth in IT, with Grand View Research finding that across much of the next decade – 2020 through to 2027 – the market size will grow at a CAGR exceeding 37%.
The interest behind edge computing is clear – it enables and future-proofs businesses for the modern way of working by enabling:
- Speed and latency – Edge computing liberates organisations from processing the most critical workloads in the cloud. With processing increasingly relying on real-time action, any latency reduces the value of the data so edge computing will be where the most critical workloads are processed.
- Security – The distributed environments that edge computing enable also distribute the risk across the environment. If one site or source comes under attack, the rest of the organisation can continue to operate without disruption.
- Reliability – A lost connection to the cloud can cost the organisation significantly when the environment is centralised. With edge computing, an issue with the connection to the cloud does not put a halt to work.
- Scalability – With Internet of Things (IoT) being a particular trend in IT, edge computing allows for the rapid deployment of devices across the distributed environment without the need to wait on the co-ordination of a centralised cloud environment serving multiple sites (and personnel) simultaneously.
The solutions that drive edge computing success
While the benefits of edge computing are significant and extensive, for such solutions to be properly effective, it's also important that such environments are built around local resiliency, as the most critical workloads that employees and devices are now operating on will be contained on-site.
Uptime is critical to modern workloads; it's why the traditional centralised datacentre model makes redundancy in all areas, including power and connectivity, such a priority. It's also why organisations look for their data centre providers to commit to SLAs that guarantee 99.995% availability or greater, which means that the organisation won't experience more than a few minutes of downtime per year.
For edge computing solutions to be successful, the same approach to redundancy and resiliency needs to be applied to each instance of the edge. APC by Schneider Electric's edge computing solutions are uniquely suited to provide that level of resiliency for the most critical workloads at the edge:
- Power Supply - APC has a long heritage in power back-up and redundancy solutions. For edge deployments, Smart-UPS solutions provide the peace of mind of Lithium-ion-driven resiliency, with an eight-to-ten year lifespan. This is coupled with a small physical footprint that allows for 58% TCO savings, making it ideally cost-effective for every edge computing instance across the distributed environment.
- Physical Security – APC solutions include physical space monitoring, access control, and audio and visual supervision with recording.
- Monitoring and Remote Management – The nature of edge computing is such that it would be inefficient to have dedicated IT resources at each instance on the edge, but enterprises also need to ensure that the edge environment is managed and maintained. EcoStruxure IT is a key part of the APC edge solution as it is a cloud-based platform that provides highly secure visibility across the entire disperse edge environment, along with near real-time feedback that allows issues to be addressed immediately.
Edge computing in action
Edge computing is a solution that applies across all verticals, with everything from public services like education and health care through to private enterprise such as manufacturing benefitting from the immediacy and close proximity to critical data and applications that edge computing enables.
However, perhaps the clearest example of edge computing in action can be seen with retail, and particularly brick-and-mortar retail. Retailers need to compete with the ever-growing influence and impact of ecommerce, and the nature of retail is such that businesses are hugely disperse – every store is a business operation into itself.
For these retailers to compete, they need access to technology innovation. This is where AI can provide help with understanding and driving customer behaviour, while virtual reality and augmented reality can provide unique and entertaining experiences to shoppers, and real-time analytics can help maximise sales. All of these innovations benefit from the processing being done at the edge, which means that retailers – despite having limited floor space – need sophisticated local data centres for processing. At the same time, these retailers can't afford any downtime, because in the highly digitised world, IT downtime means a poor customer experience.
APC by Schneider Electric has a long heritage in providing highly resilient edge computing solutions to retail stores, helping them to operate in true real-time and transform their businesses away from traditional retail to the blended digitised experience that modern consumers demand.
Edge computing is an opportunity that comes as part of digital transformation. By modernising the business effectively, an enterprise will be ready to work faster and more effectively. Edge computing enables real-time insights and decision-making to allow for maximum competitive innovation. The challenge is that many transformation projects still fail, and as far as edge computing is concerned, that risk of failure comes from a poorly managed dispersed environment and poor resiliency on the edge.
Working with a proven expert in edge resiliency, such as APC by Schneider Electric, is key for delivering the kind of outcomes that will drive such great interest and investment into edge computing over the next decade.