Edge computing brings bandwidth-intensive and latency-sensitive computing assets closer to users and data sources. As such, it is creating a whole new menu of opportunities for channel partners looking to grow their businesses by capitalising on emerging technologies.
These opportunities may come as a bit of a surprise to solution providers, after having been told for years the cloud is the future of IT. But whilst businesses are pulling applications back from the cloud to the edge of the network, don’t make the mistake of thinking the cloud will lose relevance.
Quite to the contrary, the cloud will remain as relevant as ever. What changes is that bandwidth-hogging functionality requiring real-time processing, analysis and action will be handled at the edge, whilst less-immediate compute, storage and management will remain in the centralized data centres of the cloud.
From a solution provider’s point of view, edge computing is surprising in three major ways. The first is a realisation that many of those systems companies which had jettisoned in favor of a cloud-based approach to infrastructure are coming back into play. It’s the kind of correction that tends to happen when the pendulum swings too far in one direction. Those systems will reside in wiring closets and server rooms that had perhaps fallen into disuse or limited use.
As businesses pull applications back to the edge, the chances they’ll want to add staff to manage those assets are close to nil. Most likely, they’ll want to dedicate the bulk of their edge investments to functionality, not staff. And that’s why solution providers need to pay close attention to edge computing. It may well be the next big thing in the IT channel’s evolution.
In some cases, edge computing will give solution providers new reasons to reengage with customers that may have shunned their services in favor of cloud-based solutions. One of the effects of the cloud is to reduce the need for on-premise hardware, removing some of the reasons IT service providers had in the past for maintaining relationships with customers.
With those wiring and server closets now being transformed into micro data centres on the network edge, former customers will again become sources of revenue. They will need implementation and integration services, as well as ongoing support to manage and secure the micro data centres. This creates new opportunities for providers to enter into managed services relationships with those customers.
The edge is where much of the systems that run and collect data from the Internet of Things (IoT) will reside. Proprietary machine-to-machine (M2M) systems that traditionally have captured analog information will have to be integrated with digital assets to facilitate the real-time data analysis needed for predictive maintenance.
For solution providers who’ve been wondering how they can play a role in IoT, the emergence of edge computing starts to clarify their role. There will be applications we don’t even know about yet that will require management and monitoring by solution providers. If autonomous cars become a reality, for instance, how will they be controlled? One possibility may be to create a web of mini data centres to capture and process the data that keeps vehicles safely on the road.
Looking forward, edge computing opens a growth path for solution providers, who will be in charge of maintaining the systems, protecting them with power and cooling solutions, and securing them from ever-present cyber threats. To learn even more about edge computing and its applications, take a look at this free white paper, The Drivers and Benefits of Edge Computing.