The edge computing market has become huge. According to a new report from Grand View Research it is expected to reach $43.4 billion by 2027, a growth rate of 37 percent. That sort of increase, outstripping most other areas of technology, reveals just how much edge computing is capturing the hearts and minds of businesses.
We’ve seen this transformation come about because of the shift in the way people are working. There’s less reliance on a central office with most workers sitting at their desks inside. The rise of remote and mobile workers (not to mention the impact of COVID) has meant that networks are larger and more geographically distributed – a way of operating that can cause problems with traditional data centre-based deployment.
It’s not too dramatic to say that the advent of the cloud has led to the destruction of the data centre as the cornerstone of IT infrastructure. What this means is that companies no longer have one central point – one that is vulnerable to all sorts of attacks – but a multiplicity of devices spread around the edge of a corporate network. It does mean more points to attack but there are also now a range of layers to add protection.
This drive to cloud has been prompted by a need for greater flexibility. In the same way that SaaS has altered our thinking about software delivery, it’s time to rethink the way that we handle security. It’s not just about protection: this approach makes for better governance too: different edge endpoints, located in different jurisdictions, can each conform to local regulations.
This is the main point of edge computing: it offers a degree of flexibility that the old traditional data centre model didn’t have. It’s the natural progression of cloud computing, its most perfect manifestation.
But it’s not only the implementation of security that has prompted the move to the edge – we see it in other areas too. Storage is a case in point – we’re seeing examples of companies who have moved storage devices to the edge, where latency is going to be less of a factor.
There’s a growing use of cloud storage gateways, where data is stored at the edge and shared with other remote devices, meaning there’s the ability to cache some data locally but also in a central repository. Again, this is providing clients with a new degree of flexibility about how an infrastructure is constructed.
Perhaps one of the most radical shifts has been in prompting the rollout of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). For a long time, VDI was seen as too complex to roll out, something that’s now changed, especially when coupled with edge computing and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).
Previously, companies have found it difficult to scale VDI while planning for how the platform grows. By using modular, HCI appliances at various edge locations around the world, end users get a great, low latency desktop experience. When a particular location nears capacity, a new HCI appliance is easily installed, quickly providing additional resources to service new users.
By ensuring there’s compute resource physically close to the source of data creation, companies are able to eliminate some of the latency problems associated with deeper analysis.
This is particularly powerful when combined with container technology such as Kubernetes. By deploying containerisation, companies can deploy storage more efficiently and make it easier to apply deeper analytics. An example of a company deploying edge computing effectively is US food outlet Chick-a-Fil, which has used Kubernetes to streamline operations across hundreds of restaurants and enable effective processing at different locations.
There’s a lot of work required to re-architect systems to support edge computing – the benefits are going to be huge but there’s a need to transform what’s gone on before, which can be a challenge.
To deploy a modern, state-of-the art edge system, an organisation needs to be proficient in a variety of technologies. Just look at what’s needed: there’s an understanding of VDI, the implementation of HCI, knowledge of container orchestration, a good grounding in cyber security and expertise in storage. Above all, there’s the need for experience in architecting and deploying, as it’s this skill that will underpin everything.
Not many companies will have all this at their fingertips. Major corporates will have all those skills in-house but very few mid-sized organisations will.
Adding the edge to your IT strategy will bring huge benefits but, in order to get there, it’s key to find a partner with the breadth and depth of skills to support you. If you’re interested in learning more about what the edge could do for your organisation, get in touch to chat with our experts today.