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Edge computing – The link between IoT and the cloud

As the Internet of Things (IoT) gains momentum, a new technology emerges, connecting objects to the hyperscalers’ clouds: edge computing. The objective: shifting computing power as close as possible to the IoT devices.

It looks like we all agree the Internet of Things is the next big revolution. IDC estimates that the number of connected objects will increase from 80 billion in 2025 to more than 500 billion by 2030. The Boston Consulting Group estimates the IoT market at 267 billion dollars this year.

As a matter of fact, the Internet of Things is forcing organizations to rethink their IT architecture. In short, it is a question of deploying connected objects everywhere and ensuring the processing of the data that is being produced. However, current networks are generally not reliable or fast enough to guarantee the resilience, security and availability IoT workloads need. At the same time, IT department has to make the whole thing work with limited resources, both in terms of computing power and staff, despite the fact that IoT inevitable comes with gigantic volumes of data.

Why edge?

Basically, edge computing is all about taking out part of the IT infrastructure, mainly processing and storage resources, and move it outside the walls of the company to install it as close as possible to the connected devices. The generated data is sent either to the organization’s data center or to a hyperscale cloud, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, Google Compute Engine or others. In other words, edge computing acts as a high-performance gateway between local processing resources and the cloud, private or public. According to Gartner, 10% of data is already generated and processed outside the data center, a number that will reach 50% by 2022.

Several drivers justify the shift to edge computing. Sometimes the internal IT infrastructure is too rigid or just not scalable enough, preventing it from timely and adequately processing the IoT workload. Likewise, local systems may have too little processing or storage resources. Furthermore, it may occur that local solutions are too heterogeneous, as they were deployed over time with little consistency, resulting in limited availability and effectiveness. Finally, the IT staff available locally is often limited as well, and not always able to intervene efficiently and timely. That is a problem as IoT generally requires maximum reactivity to guarantee high availability.

Advantages for IT and business

One of the major advantages of edge computing is that of the reduced need for human resources. IoT technology largely automates the collection and transmission of data. In addition, possible problems are detected and corrected automatically. Thanks to machine learning and automation, the edge works with virtually no human intervention. Likewise, the IT expertise required at local sites is limited, which is an important advantage in the context of the ongoing war for IT talent.

Another major advantage of edge computing is the ease of deploying and managing the infrastructure. Processing, storage, virtualization, backup and disaster recovery functions are integrated within a single platform, avoiding working within silos. Adding new resources can be done without interrupting the service. And given the extensive automation as well as the intuitive edge computing user interface, IT costs can be significantly reduced both in terms of implementation and management. Finally, edge computing offers greater flexibility since it is possible to add (or remove) equipment, depending on the evolution of the activity.

Today, most IT suppliers market a wide variety of edge computing hardware, including the edge chip, the micro-data center, micro-controllers, industrial PCs or hyperconverged servers. According to IDC, edge computing could take off in the context of the deployment of 5G mobile networks, as operators integrate micro-data centers – whose space can be rented for edge computing applications – into their 5G antennas.

Ecosystem

It is clear that the deployment of edge computing will lead to a complete overhaul of IT platforms and business practices in the context of digital transformation. Aprico Consultants is a consulting company specializing in the architecture and transformation of information systems. By accelerating the digital transformation process, we provide our customers with the flexibility, performance and competitiveness they need to strengthen their market position and improve their customer service.