Software applications that enable organizations to innovate and grow are often impeded by the infrastructure needed to run them. Go beyond the constraints of traditional and cloud architecture and let edge computing power your organization with these five best practices shared by Scott Loughmiller, chief product officer and co-founder of Scale Computing.
The advancement of software applications that empower organizations to grow and innovate is often hindered by the limitations of the infrastructure necessary to run them. Latency issues, regulatory challenges, IT staffing concerns, unreliable internet connectivity, and the increased flow of data through modern networks all strain traditional and cloud-based solutions. Existing infrastructure has proven inadequate at scaling to handle new applications and growing streams of data. IT leaders across industries are increasingly looking to adopt innovative edge computing solutions that better position them for future success.
In fact, Gartner recently predicted that enterprise-generated data created outside of traditional centralized data centers will grow from 10% to 75% by the year 2025. Today, the best companies across nearly every major industry are turning to edge computing as they seek new and better ways to improve business processes, access information, and enhance the customer experience. Their reasons are both varied and plentiful. For many enterprises, dependence on the cloud for critical applications is not even an option. For other organizations, real-time decision-making necessitates having all data at their disposal to gain or maintain a competitive advantage. But no matter the use case, advancements in software, networking, and hardware have brought edge computing to the forefront of infrastructure design as leaders have sought to execute their ambitious digital transformation initiatives.
As stated in the opening sentence of the recent Forrester Research report on the Future of Edge Computing, “in the future, the software will run everywhere; edge computing is how it will happen, and it might not all be pretty.” While every instance of edge deployment shares common characteristics, each has its own distinct challenges and considerations. Fortunately, many of today’s solutions make the implementation of edge computing seamless and simple if you keep some best practices in mind.
See More: Future of Edge: 4 Trends to Watch
If you’ve been thinking about how edge computing might benefit your organization, but you don’t know where to begin, consider the following guidelines as you prepare to commence on your own ‘journey to the edge’:
1. Mindset Shift
Over twenty years ago, “the cloud” came into being and forced organizations everywhere to rethink IT. Today, edge computing is causing a paradigm shift in how we think about IT services and how they are built and delivered. While IT teams are busy
maintaining legacy infrastructure, container-based and cloud-native workloads are continuously added. This increasing architectural complexity places a heavy burden on IT teams, which may push back when businesses look to add these new applications. The ensuing friction can impede organizations from implementing new digital capabilities in a timely manner. As such, a more versatile, scalable IT architecture that does not create additional work for already encumbered IT teams is imperative for companies future growth. Edge platform software with centralized management and packaged for non-IT environments enables organizations to run applications anywhere – while also reducing IT workload. You can develop at the speed and scale you desire without the constraints of bulky infrastructure and overworked or underqualified IT staff.
2. Plan for Physical Space and Equipment Requirements
Is there space in your back room office for extra storage? Edge users should account for the size of the actual equipment and its power needs, access space, security, climate control, cabling, and other requirements. Unlike the heavily-controlled, regulated environment of the modern data center, edge deployments are not known for their uniformity. As an edge adopter, you must carefully evaluate all aspects of equipment needs and the environment where you’ll deploy, including noise, fluctuating temperatures, air flow, dust, moisture, and other ambient concerns that may exist for locations such as distributed retail stores, industrial sites, manufacturing lines, or even vessels at sea.
3. Avoid Shipping and Installation Pitfalls
Edge appliances and related equipment must be delivered to wherever your workload needs to run. But edge sites often have unique challenges, such as disparate geographies, inhospitable environmental conditions, or lack of skilled IT staff on hand to troubleshoot issues. You must consider the logistics of how the equipment will be delivered to and configured at these sites early on in order to avoid squandering time and resources as the deployment progresses. Choosing an edge provider that pre-installs all required components and ships directly to each location will help streamline the rollout, minimize potential mistakes in manual configuration, enable a true plug-and-play experience for users, and significantly speed up an edge deployment.
4. Embrace Rapid Deployment and Scalability
With the right edge provider, installation should be quick and straightforward, with no need for advanced technical support or additional software to download. Solution providers should design deployment to take users from unboxing to creating virtual machines and deploying applications with little effort needed. Look for solutions that ensure that even non-technical users are able to understand and implement setup, allowing them to follow simple step-by-step instructions – like assigning IP addresses, entering a license code in a cloud-based web console, or allowing the edge appliances to self-configure. If you’re looking for scalability, edge computing footprints have the capability to expand rapidly within and across thousands of sites without needing to re-architect anything.
5. Automate Monitoring and Management
Lastly, with computing infrastructure distributed at the edge, you must carefully evaluate how your organization will monitor and manage it all. Consider that you won’t be able to rely on having skilled IT resources available 24/7 to troubleshoot issues that may arise. For this reason, aim to avoid physical interventions on site and instead look for automated technologies that enable IT staff to remotely monitor, configure, and manage distributed assets from a centralized location. Utilizing a device-configuration process like Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZTP) that can be operated automatically from a central web-based console eliminates most of the burden on IT administrators when setting up, maintaining, or upgrading an edge system and should be utilized when possible.
As advancements in software applications continue to drive business growth and innovation for organizations and data volumes grow exponentially, the infrastructure needed to run those applications becomes increasingly critical. Existing legacy and cloud solutions have been rendered inadequate as companies struggle with their limitations of bandwidth, latency, security, and staff. You need infrastructure in place that can readily handle the rapid growth and variety of software applications your company relies on. Organizations that become early adopters of innovative edge computing solutions and follow best practices for implementation are well-positioned for future success.
MORE ON EDGE COMPUTING
Image Source: Shutterstock