According to the study conducted by leading research and advisory firm, 40% of the large enterprises are likely to incorporate edge computing principles in their 2021 projects, which is a significant increase from < 1% as of 2017. Likewise, another research states that the annual expenditure of today’s organizations on remote office IT is more than $4 billion. IT leaders are considering Intelligent Edge as a powerful way to maximize the business value of initiatives such as IoT (Internet of Things), mobile computing and digital transformation. Intelligent edge refers to the place where data is generated, analyzed, interpreted, and addressed. It reduces latency, cost, and security risks, hence, making the business agile and more efficient.
For example, the Oil and Gas industry operates in remote onshore and offshore environments where telecommunication infrastructures are usually unavailable or very unreliable. As the locations are changing constantly, with challenging site conditions, the use of land-based communications is undependable. The oil and gas industry relies on productivity to prosper and achieve productivity goals. Reliable telecommunications solutions are required for remote sites such as rigs, pipelines, and ships. Therefore, real-time communications that can operate around the world, on land, or in the sea, are imperative for the oil and gas industry. This real-time communications requirement is completely covered by data-center-in-a-box solutions through edge computing. Sending and receiving data from a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) is very costly; therefore, edge computing solutions with real-time connectivity options help reduce latency and the cost of VSAT data transfer bandwidth.
Today’s IT organizations are implementing new digital business projects supported by the applications that create enormous data, which can be processed more effectively and efficiently when computing power is close to the source generating it. To maintain consistency, agility, and ease of management at remote offices, they want edge and ROBO systems to be governed by a defined set of policies, compliance, and governance guidelines. With the use of more devices, there will be a need for greater management and operations simplicity.
Remote branches face a greater challenge of working away from the main office on multiple devices, while still being required to operate effectively. They have limited power, space, bandwidth, on-site IT expertise, and are difficult to manage. The business needs which can’t be addressed due to network connectivity and latency challenges are well driven through edge computing across these remote sites. Edge computing helps an organization carry out operations and tasks effectively under constraints, such as cost, power, and network connectivity.
Instead of deploying a three-tier architecture for small remote offices, we can have a branch-in-a-box solution which gives capability for data collection and interpretation locally. Once this setup comes under the network connectivity zone, an organization would be able to process data on the public cloud provider or in/at the data center. It also enables organizations to simplify their remote and branch office infrastructure with less hardware and at a significantly lesser cost.
Edge computing uses digital devices—often placed at different locations—to transmit the data in real-time or later to a central data repository. It is applied to smartphones, tablets, sensor-generated input, robotics, automated machines on manufacturing floors, and distributed analytics servers that are used for "on the spot" computing and analytics. Companies can install edge computing solutions in-house or subscribe to a cloud provider's edge computing service.
For example, Logistic companies use edge computing in their warehouses and distribution centers to track the movement of goods through the warehouses and warehouse yards. Hospitals use it as a localized information collection and reporting platform in ICUs/operation centers. Retailers use edge computing to collect point of sales data at their stores, and then they transmit this data later to their central sales and accounting systems.
Intelligent edge is an emerging technology to make connected digital devices more agile and capable of surrounding the network environment. At the same time, these digital devices improve performance and reduce the burden on the network. For consumers, the intelligent edge is emerging as a significant leap forward to make connected devices truly smart and integrated with our lifestyle. Intelligent edge has already proven its potential to make a real impact on society in the same way as desktop computers in the early 90s. However, before intelligent edge becomes a ubiquitous reality, vendors will need to prove its financial viability, security, and real-world performance from a customer’s perspective. All of this may take years ahead to materialize.