This blog looks at the emergence of edge computing and connectivity and the effect that has on corporate IT architectures. We’ll cover the technology trends that are driving us towards the edge, in stark contrast to the recent rush to centralise, and the role of the Internet of Things (IoT) in leading that charge.

Mercurial edge, many forms

Unlike cloud, edge computing is still in its infancy, although all the evidence is it’s on the verge of explosive growth. That would have begun in earnest in 2020, had coronavirus not intervened. Even in the context of that crisis, it’s unlikely to be deferred for too long. A report by State of the Edge in December 2019 predicts cumulative capital expenditure on edge infrastructure in just 11 markets and industries could rise above US$700 billion between 2020 and 2030. The Internet of things (IoT), one of the main drivers, boasts some of the first deployments such as smart cities. According to Accenture, the IoT market will expand to nearly 75 billion connected devices by 2025, with a projected market value of US$1.1 trillion by 2026.

Free to focus on strategy

However, blanket statistics such as these can only offer limited insights. That’s because IoT edge computing, unlike essentially sector-agnostic cloud, is characterised by diversity:

  • Industry diversity: A McKinsey report New demand, new markets: What edge computing means for hardware companies from October 2018 lists 107 concrete use cases for edge computing in 11 sectors. That’s undoubtedly the tip of a huge iceberg.
  • Application diversity: Solutions range from public sector (education, healthcare, smart cities) to mass-market (gaming and live streaming) and industry apps like condition-based maintenance in transportation.
  • Technology and skills diversity: Starting with AI and ML fuelling intelligent decision-making and autonomous operation, robotics and extended reality are coming into play, requiring organisations to continually update IT skill sets from a dwindling pool.
  • Solution-specific systems integration and connectivity diversity: This will be influenced by existing infrastructures, operating models, and digital transformation maturities.

So much diversity greatly increases the challenge faced by firms planning edge computing solutions and deployments. They need to find resources to tackle the added layers of complexity and can do this most effectively through a division of labour with a multi-service partner like Telehouse. By handling the infrastructure colocation and connectivity elements, Telehouse allows the company to concentrate on strategy, design, and operation.

Seismic IT architecture shift

Just as colocation was a springboard for enterprise cloud adoption, it now offers the ideal entry point into edge computing. Telehouse, with both global reach and strong local presence in major cities, is primed and ready to interconnect between all kinds of service providers and end users, wherever they are with our edge computer-ready data centres.

Distributed models, fresh outlooks

The process of re-architecting IT infrastructures will involve changes to operating models and IT mindsets. On-demand and ubiquitous applications, for instance, will affect all business functions and points of presence. Telehouse can support and mirror this process, using its own distributed global network with over 40 data centres giving access to more than 800 service providers around the world.

Although organisations will continue to approach certain aspects of IT projects in the same way – such as the four pillars of storage, security, processing, and networking in the planning phase – some attitudes to established principles will have to change. Security is a perfect example. A distributed infrastructure will deprive DDoS attacks of a central target. Edge device data will spend less time in transit, where it was most vulnerable. This typifies the necessary, possibly counter-intuitive, attitudinal shift.

Until recently, IT professionals regarded the network edge as a high vulnerability area. But edge computing turns that notion on its head. As an integral part of an IT infrastructure, it will be subject to the same stringent security as its core counterparts.

Where connectivity is king

Connectivity in all its forms is essential to the provision of reliable, distributed and scalable low-latency edge computing.

As enterprises increasingly employ colocation services to push their cloud environments towards the edge, those services will have to be coupled with connectivity. Plurality will be key, offering links to the networks, content providers, cloud and IT providers that constitute business ecosystems.

Poised for action

The coronavirus pandemic both delayed and hastened edge computing’s breakthrough moment. Delayed, because projects close to the pilot or deployment stage have had to wait for businesses to restart. Hastened by lockdowns that promoted edge applications such as telehealth, nice-to-have changed to essential overnight. Pandemic lockdowns created a perfect testing ground, confirming the value of applications like online collaboration and virtual offices while exposing gaps in their functionality.

Colocation proliferation

The need for fast enterprise app response times and high availability levels has been well established in the cloud era. As mission critical as their core counterparts, companies will be looking for minimum uptimes of 99.99% in their choice of edge data centres and devices. Thirty years’ experience delivering colocation services and achieving availability SLAs up to 99.999% mean Telehouse is uniquely qualified to extend that expertise to the edge. The respective roles of both core and edge are likely to remain in flux in line with the ‘forever beta’ approach that sees products and services continuously reviewed and enhanced. That implies scalability and agility far beyond anything in the cloud era, hastening the demise of traditional data centres as organisations continually recalibrate competing demands of proximity and central control. Some are already using cloud infrastructures for batch processing data collected from IoT devices.

Telehouse: an abundance of options

In concert with extensive colocation expertise and facilities, Telehouse acts as a connectivity hub meeting a multiplicity of edge computing requirements. Partnering with Telehouse puts at companies’ disposal the imagination and know-how of Telehouse experts to assist them on their own unique and continuing edge computing and connectivity journeys.

Contact a Telehouse expert

At Telehouse we can help. We own the space where internet service providers congregate to interconnect and where enterprises come for elegance in their storage and compute strategies. And it’s where we can bring the finest minds to bear on helping you solve the developing edge computing and connectivity issues covered in this blog.

Contact Us

Telehouse International Corporation of Europe, Coriander Avenue, London, E14 2AA

T: +44 (0) 20 7512 0550
E: [email protected]

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