According to research and advisory company Gartner, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed at the Edge by 2025.
This is a massive increase on the current 10% of enterprise-generated data being created and processed with Edge computing, multinational electrical equipment supplier Schneider Electric secure power strategy VP Nikhil Pathak said during a two-day media conference held in Singapore, under the theme “Life at the Edge’.
In light of the shift from traditional data centres to cloud computing and, ultimately, Edge computing, Schneider says its product and service offerings are tailored to suit enterprises in emerging markets and developed economies.
Schneider secure power executive VP Dave Johnson said 42% of the company’s business is in emerging markets across the world.
“We empower the digital transformation of our customers by ensuring that their critical networks, systems and processes remain efficient. We provide power and cooling solutions for data centres, Edge information technology (IT) and non-IT applications,” he explained.
In the 1980s, Schneider focused on personal computer networks, while the data centre focus began in the 1990s, progressing to Edge IT today. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), there was a wave of opportunities ahead, noted Johnson.
“Enterprises are tackling Edge IT through cloud computing and their own data centres. We need to deal with this hybrid environment that has workloads everywhere.”
Johnson highlighted that an Edge location was a computing enclosure, space or facility that was geographically dispersed to be positioned physically closer to the point where data originates, or where a user base was located.
Schneider has identified three major Edge computing environments – commercial, industrial and telecommunications.
The commercial environment typically comprises retail, healthcare, finance and education; the industrial environment encompasses oil and gas, mining, automotive and manufacturing; and telecommunications entails central offices, cell towers, base stations and building tops.
The biggest challenges that these environments face in terms of computing services is a lack of resilience, which causes downtime, and the fact that Edge computing is not standardised – meaning the one company often makes use of different solutions across its branches or the different countries in which it operates.
Johnson said Schneider offered integrated systems, cloud-based architecture and a working ecosystem of partners to solve companies’ technology problems.
Its products simplify deployment and management at the Edge, with increased resiliency through micro data centres, row data centres and modular all-in-one data centres.
Additionally, Schneider’s cloud-based management tools, such as its EcoStruxure solution, provide remote visibility and data-driven insights for Edge environments. Johnson noted that the company’s Edge solutions collected massive amounts of data, which was necessary for analytics and perhaps artificial intelligence.
Schneider fits out buildings or plants with smart technology to allow for all devices to be connected.
Currently, EcoStruxure monitors and manages 185 000 connected devices globally, for more than 2 500 connected customers.
Schneider has established more than 350 global partnerships with hardware and software vendors, including Microsoft, VMware, Fujitsu, Intel and Hewlett-Packard, whose services are incorporated into EcoStruxure.
TREND IN CONVERGENCE
Market research organisation International Data Corporation (IDC) associate research director Glen Duncan said that, out of all the trends and developments in the marketplace, the most important had been the mobile phone and the applications developed for use on mobile phones, which had contributed to a consumer-driven marketplace.
“This is the first stage of the Edge. Data centre providers have struggled to keep up with the roll-out of smart phone technology, hence the need for cloud-based storage solutions.
“However, in a multi-cloud environment, service providers often struggle with integration of those various cloud-based systems.”
Duncan explained that the IDC had seen trends in terms of convergence across computer storage networking systems as a solution.
“The market is shifting towards the complete convergence of IT to integrate respective systems,” he added.
Moreover, Duncan pointed out that, by 2021, at least 60% of Forbes Global 2000 companies will actively monitor and manage Edge computing and use it as a key differentiator to build and maintain business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships.
This means that massive amounts of data is effectively being monetised.
Duncan added that empowered customers were demanding targeted contextual interactions, which had given rise to self-educating customers, always-connected customers, services going beyond the traditional offerings, sales processes being changed and social networks becoming an increasingly trusted source of information and recommendation.
Duncan explained that the Edge was an intermediate location between the “core” – cloud and/or traditional data centres – and connected Edge devices – such as IoT sensors.
He said the key opportunity was enabling delivery of software-as-a-service innovation at the Edge.
“Delivering and managing digital services at the Edge will become a major job for many IT companies. Edge IT is driven by the confluence of software defined, hyperconverged and pay-as-you-go.”
A 2018 IDC survey on enterprise infrastructure and data centres had found that the implementation of Edge technology was currently 43% in large office buildings, 23% in purpose-built facilities, 16% in small office buildings, 11% in shops, 23% in factories, 11% in research facilities, 9% on construction sites and 9% on roads, bridges and railway networks.
Of the respondents surveyed by the IDC, 60% said they had no Edge strategy, 20% said they used Edge to improve security, while the balance cited content delivery, data processing and richer media experiences as their uses for Edge technology.
Duncan said that, by 2022, 40% of enterprises would have doubled their IT asset spending in Edge locations and nearby colocation facilities, compared with core data centres, to deliver digital services to local users.
He said the top drivers for placing applications at Edge locations were improving security, reliability and availability, and to modernise infrastructure and lower costs.
Schneider secure power innovation senior VP Kevin Brown said that even networks with 99.65% availability still had about 28 hours of downtime a year, while 99.995% variability only equated to 25 minutes of downtime a year, which catered for customers that were increasingly intolerant to unavailability of networks.
The reasons why some enterprises are holding back from IoT deployments include concerns regarding total cost of ownership – upfront and ongoing costs, stability of the platform and a lack of internal skills.
The IDC found that 22% of companies based in the Americas analyse their IoT data at the Edge (close to the point of creation), while 28% of European companies and 30% of Asia Pacific companies use the Edge.
Schneider representatives agreed that the need for autonomous and smarter infrastructure would continue to increase, to enable easier deployment of services, proactive asset management and preventive maintenance.
*Creamer Media Senior Online Writer Marleny Arnoldi attended the conference as a guest of Schneider Electric.