Pushing boundaries

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Pushing boundaries

Friday, 31 July 2020 | Alok Ohrie

Edge computing will be a game-changer for businesses around the world owing to its capability to derive insights from data in real-time

Edge computing is quickly emerging as the next big thing in technology. From mobile devices and cell towers to refrigerators and industrial control systems, the data being generated at the edge by these platforms has enormous business value. However, what is less clear right now is how best to unlock its potential. At its basic level, edge computing brings computation and data storage closer to the devices where it is being gathered, rather than relying on a central location that can be hundreds of kilometres away. This is done so that data, especially real-time data, does not suffer latency issues that can affect an application’s performance. In addition, companies can save money by having the processing done locally, reducing the amount of data that needs to be processed in a centralised or cloud-based location.

Edge computing was developed due to the exponential growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which connect to the internet for either receiving information from the cloud or delivering data back to the cloud. And many IoT devices generate enormous amounts of data during the course of their operations.

However, in one form or another, edge computing has been around for decades. Industrial control systems, for example, are an early form of edge computing that populated manufacturing floors. Telecommunications networks have deployed content delivery networks since the 1990s. What’s changing now is the type of applications that need low latency and intense levels of data, which require both the amount of computing power that can be employed at the edge and the raw network bandwidth being made available.

As these vectors continue to increase, it becomes more feasible to satisfy the requirements of a much wider array of innovative applications at the edge of the network capable of driving a broad range of innovative business outcomes.

A catalyst for automation: Edge computing platforms have the potential to automate every business process imaginable, using machine and deep learning algorithms deployed at the very edge of the network. According to a report by Forrester Research, the total edge computing market size is expected to grow from $2.8 billion as recorded in 2019 to $9.0 billion by 2024. Instead of waiting for data to be analysed by an application residing in the cloud or the local data centre, algorithms will optimise business processes in real-time, based on events as they occur.

Everything, from connected cars to innovative, augmented and virtual-reality applications, depend on the ability to process and analyse data in real-time at the network edge. Field service technicians, for example, will be able to leverage augmented reality applications to visually compare broken equipment to the actual state it should be in.

Harness the power of edge computing to stay competitive: Business and information technology leaders that fail to recognise the possibilities of edge computing will soon find themselves lagging behind. In some cases, it may be an existing organisation employing edge computing platforms to gain a competitive advantage. When used correctly, edge computing can result in efficiencies, new revenue streams, improved customer experiences and even risk-mitigation.

In India, as many organisations have embarked upon the journey to becoming 100 per cent digital, there will be a need to adopt edge computing to automate business processes in the near future. In fact, every instance of digital business transformation will soon be driven by edge computing platforms capable of processing data in real-time. Gartner estimates that by 2025, a whopping 75 per cent of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the traditional, centralised data centre or cloud.

With many relying on cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure to deal with this data explosion, a shift of computing to the edge can be highly anticipated. While the edge evolves and starts making its place in today’s world, we can expect it to become even more disruptive than the existing cloud environment.

Although edge computing is not a new concept for many around the world, it is still at a very nascent stage in India and is on the path to breaking traditional cloud computing limits. Rather it represents a profound transformation of business processes that will soon eclipse the cloud in terms of strategic importance.

While early goals of edge computing were to address the costs of bandwidth for data travelling long distances because of the growth of IoT-generated data, the rise of real-time applications that need processing at the edge will drive the technology ahead. To conclude, edge computing will be a game-changer for businesses around the world owing to its capability to derive insights from data in real-time. This will help in increasing business efficiency while cutting costs as it will eliminate the need for ample cloud storage for data.

(The writer is President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies, India)

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