The future of Edge and the IT channel

IDC predicts that 80% of end-users plan to deploy more IT services at the edge, with around 40% of businesses planning to outsource their edge initiatives in future. And with the shift of traditional resellers transitioning from hardware sales to becoming IT Solutions Providers, the move to the edge represents a significant opportunity for the IT channel to support end-users with digital services.

On our latest episode of the IT Channel Perspectives podcast, I joined James Delaney, Solution Development Manager at Comms-care, the leading IT solutions and services provider to the channel, to discuss edge adoption and why IT challenges at the edge are becoming more acute and difficult to manage. We also looked at why end-users are turning towards the IT channel and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to fill the industry skills gap.

What’s driving the growth in edge computing?

Gartner predicts that the edge market is set to grow from 10% of data being processed at the edge to around 75%. Delaney explained that Comms-care is seeing this growth of edge in a few areas, including IoT (Internet of Things), where the deployment of edge computing removes many customer concerns around latency, bandwidth, and security. Multicloud deployments are another area where IT is thriving at the edge, allowing users to focus on the right workload, and on the right platforms.

“The trend in edge computing is about having processing power close to where the data needs to be, and how to maximise the uptime to ensure the data is always available,” said Delaney.

He continues: “A supermarket, for example, will need sensors to identify where shoppers are spending more time, so having that data in the cloud will mean that ultimately, it can’t be uploaded and then interrogated in real-time. In our experience, what a lot of businesses are now looking to do is push compute back out to the edge.”

Overcoming customer pain points

Many customers are experiencing challenges at the edge, which can include the complexity of running distributed IT environments at high levels of availability. For example, when removing IT equipment from a central data centre into a non-IT environment, like an office space or virtualised environment, there can often be little or no staff on-site, either because it’s inefficient to locate someone there, or because of the skills gap.

Another challenge businesses are facing is a lack of visibility into IT. One of the most frequently asked questions we are asked by customers is ‘how can I find out if I have a problem with my power equipment before it is too late?’, and typically, most customers will only just notice when an IT failure has already taken place.

Here it is important to cite that technology has become an enabler, and partners who are moving to diversify their digital services portfolios or establish a specialisation in Managed Power Services, have the capabilities to take corrective actions before failure occurs.

Managed power “a game-changer”

Indeed, managing and preventing the pain points surrounding security, resilience and uptime are driving the growth of professional and managed services among channel partners. And to that point, Schneider Electric offers the hardware, software, and services to help our partners overcome customer challenges at the edge.

One way that partners can do this is to leverage Schneider Electric’s complete portfolio of Managed Power Services, as well as its design tools like the local edge configurator (LEC). The LEC includes reference designs for all Schneider Electric edge computing solutions built by our Alliance Partners like Cisco, Dell and HPE.

The IoT-enabled EcoStruxure architecture is of particular importance as it’s the foundation for Managed Power Services, and includes the hardware, software and tools to build preventive and predictive services, which helps end-users to increase operational resilience at customers’ edge computing sites. Moreover, Managed Power Services are quite literally changing the game when it comes to increasing uptime and improving physical security at the edge.

Skills shortage fuelling the demand for managed services

The skills gap has also played a significant role in driving the managed services market. Increasingly, customers are looking to outsource their IT and critical infrastructure requirements to fill any gaps in their own resources.

“Businesses are looking to scale out to third parties to manage the areas that either they don’t have the skills in, or simply wish to concentrate their IT resources elsewhere,” said Delaney. “For Comms-care, whether it’s strategic road mapping and assessment, or execution activities including deployment and adoption, all the way through to support and management, we’re seeing requests for us to support end-users across the board. The skills gap is front and centre of what we’re seeing in terms of driving the demand for managed services forward.”

The question is, where should partners focus? And what areas should end-users begin to consider outsourcing? According to LogicMonitor the top needs for enterprise organisations are very basic. The first is support for 24/7 monitoring, and the second is decreased IT downtime, which opens the door for IT Solutions Providers to help customers overcome the basic demands around critical infrastructure.

To help partners demonstrate the value provided by outsourcing their IT management, Schneider Electric provides an Edge UPS Fleet Management Comparison Calculator, which compares the cost of outsourcing fleet management versus the end user running maintenance and modernisation programs themselves.

It has also created the Edge Software & Digital Services Program, which helps partners build new recurring revenue streams with a step-by-step guide on establishing a managed power service, among many other financial and training benefits.

Looking to the future, Comms-care plans to load UPS Services to its Cloud Marketplace and enable partners to self-service. “Partners are adopting a buyer 2.0 approach where they’ve done their market research and already know what they want,” said Delaney. “Many are looking for validation of that product or service being available in the market. This is a great fit and there is a market need out there.”

Proving business outcomes with managed services

Businesses today are looking for outcomes, whether that’s greater IT stability, increased efficiencies, or the drive for more sustainable deployments. Those needs mean more outsourcing opportunities for partners to capture.

MSPs are looking for the next logical step to expand their service catalogues. Not only to capture additional business but to differentiate from competitors. The remote monitoring of server of networking is a key component of their business, and Managed Power Services present an easy way to expand their service portfolios by adding support for critical IT deployments.

To learn more about Managed Power Services, or the Edge Software and Digital Services program, please click HERE Or listen to the IT Channel perspectives podcast and understand how managed service providers are helping to bridge the IT skills gap, with Comms-care

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