It’s tempting to think of “work from home” as characterizing today’s distributed enterprises. But it goes way beyond that. Cloud and edge computing have emerged as key infrastructure components for modern enterprises. That’s because edge IT infrastructure offers valuable benefits such as low latency for more responsive business and operational systems.
The name of the game is real-time computing that gives organizations more flexibility and agility. In the edge computing era, enterprises seeking the benefits of real-time operations, data, and analytics have pushed the evolution of the technology stack away from the traditional data center and toward edge clouds, distributed data centers, and content delivery networks.
That’s all to the benefit of businesses and the customers they serve. However, against this backdrop, assuring security and the performance of these mission-critical assets — both physical and virtual — is an ongoing IT challenge.
Here’s how IT organizations are getting help.
The edge IT management challenge
Mini data centers often lack the power backup, facilities engineering and support, and dedicated staff of big-ticket data centers. They often leave skeleton IT staffs on-site or none at all on a permanent basis to deal with any issues — from power and cooling failures to security breaches — that could prove devastating to the businesses they serve.
“The potential for edge computing is a dream,” says Adam Compton, Director of Strategy at Schneider Electric. “And the potential for risk presented by the management of edge computing is a nightmare.”
To tackle these issues, successful organizations are turning to comprehensive edge monitoring and dispatch solutions that can simplify remote management. “The obvious answer is that there needs to be a way by which you can monitor and maintain and manage all of this edge infrastructure,” Compton says. Remote monitoring is nothing new, he says. “The ability to monitor IT hardware, including power infrastructure, has been around for the 23 years I’ve been in IT.”
What is new is the sophistication of both distributed IT infrastructure and solutions available for monitoring and managing it.
Sophisticated solutions for a new era
“Now there are microdata center solutions which can provide all of the capabilities of a data center in a very, very small footprint, inclusive of the power,” Compton says.
Take uninterruptible power supply (UPS) solutions, for example. Modern UPS systems such as Schneider Electric’s APC Smart-UPS Ultra are powered by lithium-ion batteries, allowing them to pack more energy into smaller spaces. These longer-lived systems also reduce the total cost of ownership for organizations deploying them compared with older, lead-acid battery-powered systems.
Remote monitoring systems have come a long way, too, incorporating, among other innovations, open application programming interfaces (APIs) to provide compatibility with a wide range of systems and third-party partners.
For example, Schneider’s EcoStruxure IT solution brings data analytics to bear on the problem of predicting when systems such as UPS units will need maintenance well before disaster strikes. A dispatch service that sends replacement parts and technicians the next day can serve as an excellent complement.
Compton says finding the right trusted partner is a good place to start with getting a handle on edge IT management. “There’s no question that it’s overwhelming,” Compton says. A trusted partner, he says, can go a long way toward combatting that overwhelm. “Who can I trust to help me with it?” Compton suggests IT professionals in charge of the edge ask themselves.