Increasingly, organisations are harnessing digital systems at the edge for greater efficiency, control, and performance. From AI applications to the Internet of Things (IoT), an edge deployment ensures that data is processed and analysed at the point where it is created, negating bandwidth and latency issues before they become a problem.
The growing role of edge
There is no question that the momentum to deploy edge computing is growing. For one, an edge deployment can negate the cost of transporting data to the cloud. Though the cost of cloud storage has greatly decreased over the last decade, surging data volumes mean that the cost of transferring data is likely to increase as more bandwidth is required.
Edge systems also offer resilience against unpredictable Internet congestion or outages. This is particularly important for deployments at remote locations such as an oil rig or a mine, which tend to rely on connectivity options such as satellite uplinks that are influenced by factors such as the weather.
Elsewhere, pervasive digitalisation means that more data than ever is created by sensors, digital systems, and networked machinery. By applying analytics or even artificial intelligence (AI) on existing repositories of data at the edge, businesses can gain valuable business insights, know when to perform preventive maintenance, or make accurate production forecasts.
Unsurprisingly, analyst firm IDC predicts that the growing interest in edge computing will see 65 per cent of Global 2000 companies embedding edge-first data stewardship, security, and network practices into data protection plans, as well as integrating edge data into relevant processes by 2024.
Overcoming challenges at the edge
But what are the obstacles to implementing edge computing? One barrier would surely be the difficulty of managing edge deployments at scale, given how businesses often lack the know-how to design, deploy, and manage edge deployments.
Below are some potential solutions that enterprises can adopt for their edge deployments.
Power and connectivity: Computer systems require reliable connectivity and electricity to function properly, both of which can be problematic at remote locations. To increase reliability, be sure to implement relevant infrastructures such as UPS for power and proper rack enclosures for network equipment. Finally, environmental considerations such as dust, vibration and heat should be taken into consideration and mitigated accordingly to ensure maximum resilience and uptime.
Performance and security: Many edge sites lack a dedicated IT staff and are hence more susceptible to challenges that invariably impact performance or uptime.
To address this, be sure to implement robust remote monitoring and management solutions for better visibility and the ability to respond to potential issues. Crucially, businesses should proactively monitor and manage edge locations – and resolve potential problems before they impact operations.
The skills gap: One approach to addressing the skills gap involves tapping into an ecosystem of partners and leveraging the edge computing expertise of IT solution providers and vendors. Ask for validated edge deployments solutions, and work proactively with the experts to maintain uptime – and freeing your organisation to focus on its core competency.
The need for centralised servers and cloud computing will not go away. However, it will be completed by edge computing for a hyperconnected world.