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What’s your edge?

By , Senior Vice President - MERAT, at Dell Technologies
Africa , 30 Apr 2020
Mohammed Amin, Senior Vice President - MERAT, at Dell Technologies.
Mohammed Amin, Senior Vice President - MERAT, at Dell Technologies.

Edge computing has been garnering significant attention and has already started making an impact on how organisations think about working with data, defying boundaries beyond the use of datacentres. With the recent shifts to virtual operations and remote working, organisations are being challenged to think of innovative models and infrastructure to cater to these rising needs.

Concurrently, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digital transformation are taking place, and waves of technology have been shaping and changing the IT world and challenging how organisations do business. The influx of data is soaring due to the vast adoption and proliferation of smart devices and growing connectivity.

With 30 billion end points predicated by 2023, edge infrastructure modernisation, demands platforms that can address the stringent services, environmental, power and physical footprint requirements that IOT solutions demand.

Devices such as phones, drones, automobiles, smart watches, utility grids and industrial sensors and machines are churning out large amounts of data, making it increasingly urgent for IT leaders to determine how and where this data will be processed.

Accessing and analysing of distributed real-time data is becoming more important to businesses and is driving the need for different computing strategies and processing systems that complement larger datacentres located far away.

Gartner predicts that by 2022, as a result of digital business projects, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the traditional, centralised datacentre or cloud – an increase from the less than 10% generated today.

Businesses need to have consistent, flexible infrastructure to quickly adapt to these shifts. With the ability of edge computing to capture data created near the source and the advancement of analytics applications, new business models are emerging altering the way organisations think about their technology assets.

The edge computing industry itself is predicted to be worth US$28.8-billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research released this month.

Alongside this, the parallel advent of emerging technologies is driving the adoption of edge computing, enabling a transition from datacentres to smaller distributed centres at the edge. 5G, IOT, and AI are converging and creating new paradigms about data on the edge that will influence both the public and private sectors.

The vast adoption of IOT and 5G is expected to grow significantly in the region, and edge computing can be an asset by reducing latency and enabling real-time analytics, fully utilising the potential of these technologies. Additionally, the combination of AI and edge computing can help foster innovation, improve operations, and enhance customer experiences with close to real-time automation.

At its core, edge computing processes data close to the source of where it is generated, proving valuable for increasing use cases of analytics and machine learning. What makes this exciting is seeing how businesses will be leveraging these converging technologies, as they have transformative potential for many industries and areas.

For instance, in retail the benefits could range from facial recognition for personalised advertising, to AI-powered surveillance for security and retail shrinkage prevention. In the manufacturing industry, it can boost production by speeding up automated quality assurance checks, and addressing limitations across areas such as predictive maintenance, automated process management and supply chain visibility.

Looking at healthcare, remote surgeries and telemedicine could be facilitated more seamlessly and for smart cities, there can numerous benefits from faster autonomous vehicle support to smart traffic management.

Additionally, the benefits of reduced latency, improved throughput, better security, and isolation, coupled with data reduction and context and location awareness make edge computing a compelling area of infrastructure investment for communication service providers (CSPs).

Businesses need to start planning on incorporating edge computing into their roadmaps to be ready for this coming wave. The role of the CIO is constantly evolving to match the fast pace of change in the IT industry, and CIOs should acknowledge that there should be room for learning and risk involved. While edge computing has the potential to transform enterprises, CIOs should examine the particular business needs and goals it can help them achieve. When to invest in edge and where it fits in the larger data management and cloud strategies are common questions.

Rather than seeing edge computing as an ultimate choice, a mixed or hybrid approach could work better, by incorporating the different emerging technologies in innovative ways. Identifying where localized computing power is necessary for real-time insights, rapid data processing and reduced latency, is valuable for businesses to recognise.

Investment in the right areas will allow for increased efficiencies, reduced costs in moving around data, and flexibility to handle future AI demands and latency-sensitive applications. It is certain that edge computing will have an increasing role to play as more things in the world are digitised, and could be actually be the key to maximizing the success of intelligent connectivity.

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