Edge computing is defined to be computing infrastructure that exists close to the source of data – such as unmanned machinery, field-based tools and systems, and even transportation – and helps collect, analyze, store, and use this data in a meaningful way.

With edge computing, operations technology (OT) teams are able to provide critical data processing at the very edge of a network rather than in the cloud or via a centralized data warehouse. Such real-time data processing can significantly improve the way many of these organizations run their business, and in doing so, deliver many powerful new benefits.

To fully understand how edge computing arrived – and the opportunities it presents – let’s take a closer look at factors that are pulling edge computing into the mainstream.

  1. The Internet of Things (IoT). Analysts estimate that by 2020 more than 5.6 billion IoT devices owned and operated in enterprise and government environments will utilize edge computing for data collection. That represents significant growth over 1.6 billion devices in 2017.[1]

Why is edge computing emerging as the better alternative in IoT environments? While most information will be uploaded and processed via the cloud, some business-critical applications will demand real-time data. This requires the use of a physical or virtual computing infrastructure on the edge of the network to minimize the bandwidth needed to access data that is centrally stored.

  1. Real-time business decisions. Just as IoT is becoming more mainstream, more industries are using the technology to leverage real-time data to drive better decisions. The impact of IoT is well documented in industries such as retail and healthcare. But today what was once an emerging technology is now helping to revolutionize industries in need of innovation, such as manufacturing, transportation, energy, food and beverage, and waste management.

Using manufacturing as an example, many are collecting data on the shop floor via IoT sensors and analyzing it to drive predictive maintenance and optimize machine performance. Every IoT device — from robotic arms, HVAC units, assembly systems, or any intelligent device — collects data for processing and analysis. Edge computing can process the data instantly and arm manufacturers with the information to make faster, more informed decisions that optimize the supply chain, streamline production, and reduce costs.

  1. Improved security and compliance. IT teams are sensitive to the risks involved whenever data is transferred between devices and the cloud. Edge computing alleviates the risk by making much of that data transfer avoidable in some environments. With edge computing it is possible to filter sensitive information locally and only transfer data important to model-building information to the cloud.

This means enterprises can build an adequate security and compliance framework that meets their needs and ensures compliance with audits.

  1. Closing modernization gaps. IoT and edge computing are driving the next wave of data center modernization and improvement. Virtualization represents an affordable means of updating and innovating IT environments and addressing immediate needs with cutting-edge technology with our breaking the bank. What’s more, edge computing enables enterprises to capitalize on modern devices without sacrificing existing legacy systems.

That’s because edge computing devices can be used as a communication bridge between legacy systems and modern machines. This allows legacy industrial environments to connect to modern devices or IoT solutions and provides immediate benefits of capturing and integrating real-time data from both legacy systems and modern devices for better decisions.

Capitalizing on the edge opportunity

In order for any organization to reap the maximum benefits that edge computing can delivery, a new technology approach and computing infrastructure are needed. New innovations, such as the Stratus ztC Edge, provides built-in virtualization, automated protection, and managed services – all to provide versatile computing platform for running business critical applications.

Interested in learning more about edge computing, and how your organization can capitalize on the new opportunities it presents?

[1] Tech Insider, BI Intelligence, “Edge Computing in the IoT: Forecasts, Key Benefits, and Top Industries Adopting an Analytics Model that Improves Processing and Cut Costs,” October 2016.