There are 8.4 billion connected ‘things’ in use in 2017, according to tech researchers Gartner – up 31% on 2016. In response, over 80% of IT teams want their datacenters to be more reliable and available to handle the pace of growth in IoT. By moving processing to the edge of the network, organizations can combat latency by reducing traffic on the primary network, enabling faster, more efficient decision-making. So, what is edge computing, and how can CIOs ensure their datacenters are ready?
Edge computing vs the Cloud
Edge computing is where data processing takes place at the edge of a network instead of in the cloud or a centralized datacenter. Edge devices capture streaming data that could be useful in preventing failures, optimizing performance, and dealing with hardware defects without delay. For instance, the device could be a smartphone collecting data from other devices before sending it into the Cloud. In reality, edge computing and the Cloud work regularly in tandem. For instance, an analytic model might be created in the Cloud and then pushed out to edge devices. Then there’s ‘fog computing’, which concerns how data is processed from the edge to the Cloud.
It’s worth noting, too, that edge computing and cloud computing aren’t in competition. It makes sense to develop purpose-built edge applications that quickly process reactions where they’re needed – such as data processing from an alarm sensor. What wouldn’t make sense, by contrast, would be to move inventory data and all applications to the edge, leaving an unsecured, distributed mess.
Keeping the same principles
Ultimately, the goal of edge computing is the same as datacenter management: how can we improve reliability and availability as user expectations increase? When millisecond delays can have a catastrophic effect on the financial markets and real-time healthcare analytics can make life-or-death decisions for patients, the pressure is on to provide speed and scale. Edge computing pushes some of the processing load out to where users are, enabling organizations to meet the needs of their geographically-diverse users and improving productivity and performance.
Around 79% of IT teams feel that having customers close to their content is the most important task of a datacenter. Edge computing should put information in the hands of users in as close to real-time as possible. The job of CIOs and IT staff is to prioritize edge with other strategies, balancing their different benefits to deliver the most efficient, yet secure, service for users.
Making tighter decisions
When it comes to adapting to the pace of innovation, CIOs and datacenter staff often face an uphill struggle to stay on top of the broader developments, and get their own mix of hardware, software and services right for users. Staff must keep their skills as relevant as their technology to make consistently informed, accurate choices.
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