The growth of edge computing, where market size is expected to exceed $3.24 billion by 2025, signals a change in the way IT shops will structure their budgets. New investments will likely alter the mix of cloud computing, where large volumes of data move back and forth, to edge computing where a large portion of the data is processed locally and only the processing results get sent to the cloud.
Regardless of how IT organisations choose to shift their resources, edge computing is clearly here to stay. And, as is the case with most new business and technology trends, some practical adjustments will need to be made in order to enhance edge computing implementation and support efficiencies.
How Edge Computing Implementations are Evolving
For those considering the active deployment of edge computing solutions in the near future, it is worth your time to review how edge computing implementations are evolving.
Services will play an even bigger role in enabling successful edge use cases
Organisations that deploy edge computing solutions will rely much more on the ability of outside experts and the services they provide to perform the needed edge system integration and support services. This trend is perpetuated by both the complexity of systems (the considerable labour involved in linking hardware, software and networking with parts and components originating from a multitude of vendors) and the lack of trained staff in edge compute environments (edge systems are expected to run on their own and to be monitored remotely). As companies are digitising, they are deploying more technology with the same resources (CIO budgets are flat), and the bandwidth for support of edge systems is severely limited. In 2019, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) will play a key role in providing these unique servicing capabilities.
An “ecosystem” of partnerships will emerge
Given the diversity of demands that characterise edge environments, no single company (not even the biggest technology industry titans), will be able to either build or deploy end-to-end edge computing solutions. Successful implementations will rely on an ecosystem of individual competencies across multiple partners and vendors that blend together. The list of customer requirements is as diverse as the edge environments themselves. Therefore, nimble companies with niche expertise will be needed to address the wide swath of customer requirements. New, more diverse partnerships will provide the integrations that end users require to meet their out-of-the-box functionality expectations.
5G network influence will grow
The traditional limitations of cloud computing (such as latency, bandwidth, and regulatory data restrictions) will continue to fuel the expansion of edge computing. Although the cloud provides cheap compute, and storage, it cannot overcome the current limitations of the network. However, the emergence of 5G may alter that formula. 5G can address some of the network restrictions thereby moving the bar for the cloud limitations that are driving edge. In fact, 5G will enable both more flexibility in using the cloud to house traditionally latency-prone applications and, at the same time, will enable new opportunities for edge computing because of improvements in bandwidth speed and cost.
The miniaturisation of edge components will continue
Think of the mind-boggling quantity of compute power that is now packed into a cell phone. That miniaturisation is gradually making its way to the micro data centre edge appliance environment. Soon IT servers will be manufactured that are 1/3 of the size of a normal server. The traditional 19-inch enclosure may no longer be the standard rack form factor for housing micro data centres. Consider that some of the latest tractor trailer trucks are running what could be considered miniature data centres inside of them. Computers, storage devices, and power protection devices inside these trucks support tracking equipment, refrigeration components, hydration machines and more. These “edge data centre” devices consolidate into a space that is not much bigger than a 200-amp home electrical panel.
Micro data centre systems will continue to mature
Micro data centres, which are serving as a core infrastructure for supporting edge computing solutions, have been well received by the marketplace. Across many industries (like fast food restaurant chains, for example,) these solutions dramatically simplify technology deployments. The ability to remotely monitor these systems also eliminates the need to place IT staff on site. Employees only need to plug in the system and push the start button for activation to occur.
However, when an issue occurs within these systems, administrators are still unsure of where the failing component is located among the larger network of devices. They are also unable to determine whether the issue is adversely impacting other local components. In 2019 these types of issues will be resolved. Micro data centres will be viewed as a single integrated entity as opposed to a simple collection of parts. In addition, the advanced analytics that feed the remote monitoring systems will indicate whether the micro data centre is unhealthy and provide the reasons why a specific component is causing an issue.
These types of capabilities result in a reduction of lifecycle management costs. Such a scenario is a clear example of how digitisation can drive business value in unmanned enterprise spaces.
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