Let's talk digital transformation. Edge computing is designed to put applications and data closer to devices – and their users. While cloud computing drove the creation of mega data centres, edge computing brings distributed IT with an exponential number of micro data centres. APC has taken this evolution even further with its introduction of easy-to-use and customisable edge solutions.
Put simply – edge computing is a method to improve the performance of Internet-based electronic devices. From phones, and computers to sensors, pressure gauges, traffic management systems, autonomous vehicle controllers. How does it do so? By taking the Internet closer to the devices. Thanks to edge computing, anything with a connection to the Internet can perform better. Think videos that don’t buffer, websites that download faster, better bandwidth and location-based applications.
That’s all good and well, but what are the key benefits of plugging into the edge computing trend? Here are four hard-and-fast plus points:
Edge computing architectures offer huge benefits to businesses in almost every industry, but they also come with challenges. While collecting billions of pieces of data from millions of interconnected devices can allow firms to offer truly adaptable services.
Part of the challenge of building storage infrastructure for edge computing is the sheer volume of data that edge systems generate. At the moment, there are two main strategies that are widely used for dealing with the data that is created by edge devices.
The first of these strategies is to incorporate edge intelligence. Edge intelligence comes in many different forms, but in some cases it can be used to minimise the data footprint. The idea behind this technique is to allow the edge device (or a connected appliance) to pre-process its data. Rather than sending every bit of the data created by the device to the cloud, it may make more sense (depending on the device type) to send only the data that is of interest.
To put this concept into perspective, imagine that you have a security camera watching your front door. It probably doesn’t make sense to store all of the camera’s raw footage in the cloud for an extended period of time. A better option would be to transmit data to the cloud only when the camera detects motion. Similarly, the data stream coming from an edge device can be analysed as the data is created so that meaningful data can be stored, with the rest of the data being discarded.
Another way that organisations are starting to decrease their edge costs is through edge storage. At its simplest, this means streaming data to an on-site storage appliance rather than to the cloud. This approach frees the organisation from having to pay a per-gigabyte per-month storage fee to a cloud provider, while also freeing up a significant amount of internet bandwidth.
Some IoT device vendors are building storage into their devices. This internal storage may exist as an SD card, or it could be based on another technology such as NVMe. Regardless, this approach is used primarily in situations in which the IoT vendor recognises that device data will be largely transient. Again, consider a security camera as an example. For most organisations, it is perfectly acceptable to overwrite security camera footage once a certain amount of time has passed. If the camera happens to record something interesting, that data can always be offloaded.
Let's take a closer look at digital transformation with edge computing in mind. Many questions arise when an organisation is about to decide on an edge computing solution. While each project comes with individual requirements, there is a universal set of features that should be considered when selecting an edge solution.
A good edge computing solution should be able to both show straightforward, immediate benefits while also enabling organisational growth in the long term. It should output useful data and reports to all existing systems. Perhaps most important, it should be optimised for the requirements of the specific production environment it is being deployed in.
Scalability is not just a buzzword. Many perfectly workable small-scale solutions can run into serious trouble as the number of users and resources, the physical distance over which they work, or the admirative overhead grows. Such trouble can create additional costs and delays, or even tank the whole project.
Immediate Functional Improvement
The solution should show immediate benefits to the user. It should not require any changes to either equipment or procedure. For example, within a manufacturing environment, edge computing should take the data smart cameras and barcode readers already generate and integrate it, filter it, and turn it into a form of useful information that could improve the production line.
This should be easy and straightforward, fitting into existing workflows without the need to acquire additional skills, detailed knowledge of vision systems, or the ability to interpret large amounts of new data. It should not make a job harder or more complicated, and should not require attention already budgeted for existing tasks.
The edge computing device should plug into an Ethernet switch, get connected to a programmable logic controller (PLC), and be useful right from activation.
Data Analysis Capabilities
An edge computing platform should be able to automatically generate regular reports on KPIs, with no additional work required. When higher-level decisions are required, it should be fast and easy to extract crucial information and send it on to management in a format convenient for their use. This is important when seeking digital transformation.
Such a reporting capability allows an engineer to keep a pulse on a significant number of lines. If there is variation between one line and another, the variation can be reviewed to determine the underlying causes. Alerts can be set to notify if performance measures, such as read rate or throughput, drops below certain thresholds. Flexible reporting gives the engineer a finger on the line’s pulse.
APC bridges the gap of traditionally separate worlds of OT & IT with Micro Data Centre solutions that meet challenges at the edge and deliver a unified IoT architecture.
Choose from a wide range of enclosures for traditional IT spaces, harsh or industrial areas, and office or commercial spaces.
Micro data centres help IT professionals install and manage edge networking and computing simply, reliably, and predictably by combining power, cooling, physical security, and management software and services into prepackaged rack solutions that can be deployed globally in any environment.
EcoStruxure Micro Data Centre from Schneider Electric
Introducing an innovative, low-profile wall mountable micro data centre, the 6U Wall Mount is an innovative way to deploy server and networking equipment at the Edge. The unique low-profile design enables large depth devices to be wall mounted in a compact and less intrusive form factor than traditional wall mount cabinets. The solution includes UPS, security, and remote management. EcoStruxture offers digital transformation wherever you need it.
EcoStruxure IT revolutionises the way IT and data centre professionals monitor and manage their critical IT infrastructure on-premise, in the cloud, and at the edge.
The vendor-neutral architecture delivers a new standard for proactive insights on critical assets that impact the health and availability of an IT environment with the ability to deliver actionable real-time recommendations to optimise infrastructure performance and mitigate risk.
Key Benefits of Ecostruxure IT: