Edge computing: There’s no denying that this a hot topic right now – particularly in industrial environments. Over the past year, we have seen edge clearly move from an emerging topic, to a more mainstream trend. Analysts and media alike are increasingly commenting on the value edge computing can bring to businesses. If you are considering an edge computing strategy, here are ways it can bring you value – from reducing overall costs to increasing business agility.
One of the preliminary business drivers for edge computing has been cost savings – both in bandwidth as well as the ability to provide faster and more accurate access to data at its source. When computing power is moved to the edge – e.g, a manufacturing plant floor or remote industrial site – less network traffic, or bandwidth, is required because data no longer needs to be sent up to the cloud or back to the corporate data center for evaluation and analysis. Virtualized edge servers also provide cost savings by reducing the overall number of devices needed, and therefore also decreasing the number of software licenses. Greater computing power at the edge also means that data can be analyzed and acted upon immediately. This is crucial for industrial environments, because it enables companies to detect equipment issues sooner rather than later, thus avoiding unanticipated downtime.
Another benefit of emerging edge devices is their ability to operate autonomously and/or be remotely managed. This is particularly beneficial for businesses generating data in remote locations, such as companies in the oil and gas sector. For instance, when an oil provider experiences an issue with a device out on an oil rig or in a remote area, if that edge device is self-managing, it can communicate back to the vendor and “fix” itself, eliminating the need to send IT personnel to the remote site. This remote reliability also means that non-IT employees will have an easier time overseeing an edge device – something users are asking for. In fact, in a recent ARC Advisory Group market report, 90 percent of industrial automation users agreed that as the industry grows, businesses will need a simplified edge infrastructure with the capability to be remotely managed.
Ultimately, edge computing can play a significant role in a company’s business agility and digital transformation – the time to start is now.