Enterprises are embracing edge computing

hiker on cliff edge

The exponential growth of connected, embedded devices — the Internet of Things (IoT) — is forcing some enterprises to revamp their network architectures to avoid latency issues and continue to process a high volume of data with minimal delay. Factors contributing to the high adoption rate of IoT devices across industries “include rising demand for low-latency processing and real-time, automated decision-making solutions, and a need for surmounting exponentially increasing data volumes and network traffic,” research firm Business Industry Reports wrote last week.

Indeed, the growth of IoT devices is causing a dramatic shift in where digital data resides. Tech consulting firm Gartner estimated in 2018 that roughly 10% of enterprise data was “created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud.” By 2025, Gartner predicted, “this figure will reach 75%.”

To get the most out of IoT devices – many of which must perform tasks and make decisions in real-time — enterprises should consider placing physical computing resources nearby, along the edge of the network. Edge computing can process and analyze data generated by IoT devices far faster than could a distant server, even a cloud-based server.

Why you need it

Enterprise IoT adoption arguably is the main driver of the edge computing market, which is expected to soar to $6.72 billion in 2024 from $1.47 billion in 2020, according to Business Industry Reports’ recent forecast.

Among the use cases for edge computing:

  • Help manufacturers detect equipment failure in real time
  • Improve the management and performance of smart energy grids
  • Provide network architecture for smart traffic management
  • Enable real-time monitoring of healthcare patients through connected devices
  • Analyze retail customer behavior in real time

Beyond reducing latency, edge computing helps organizations increase business efficiency and security while reducing IT operating costs, all by avoiding the need to transmit massive volumes of data across great distances.

As with any change to network architecture, enterprises should take specific steps to prepare for an edge deployment:

The first step is to define your organization’s “edge,” particularly where IoT devices are located.

The next step is to assess the security of your enterprise’s IoT devices because some device manufacturers may be more concerned with selling than securing their products. Testing your devices and conducting research may seem like a burden, but they’re easy compared to detecting and eliminating a vulnerability. It’s also important to assess the physical security of IoT devices.

Another critical step is to develop a realistic IoT maintenance strategy. The goal should be to extend the life of remote devices through software updates, thus reducing the need to physically update or replace hardware.

Managing edge servers and devices can turn into a nightmare without a way to streamline processes and operations through automation. Enterprise IT leaders should have a plan for automating edge management.

Finally, determine what skills you need to integrate and manage an edge computing environment. These skills may include system design, networking, database expertise, and device security. If your staff lacks those skills, it might make sense to partner with an experienced IT services provider.

Edge computing offers enterprises the network infrastructure necessary to support IoT devices while boosting business efficiency and lowering costs. The keys to a successful edge deployment are planning and knowledgeable partners.

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