DCN June 2016 - Page 33

edge computing distributed across smart devices and edge computing systems. The benefits of edge computing For those consumer facing businesses operating on the edge of the network, edge computing can provide a number of advantages. First, when data security is paramount, nothing can replace having this data contained in-house where a company can have total control over the security procedures, rather than in a centralised data centre. In some industries, there may also be legislation which specifies the security around and use of customer data, requiring an in-house data centre to be compliant. Pressures on bandwidth and latency for key client interactions can make businesses want their computing power to be closer, as well as if they require devices to be autonomous. For example, Internet of Things (IoT) connected machines which would work more effectively having a local source of computing power. Ultimately edge computing improves response times and availability for customers. End users expect to be able to quickly access their data from a variety of devices and locations at any time and edge computing enables this. Shops embracing the edge The retail sector is one industry that would particularly benefit from edge computing. The retail landscape is rapidly changing; a few years ago bricks and mortar retail stores were stand alone environments, but this is no longer the case. A retail store is now a complex IT environment, made up of a myriad of devices such as PC based POS terminals, hand helds, RFID readers, manger works stations, local hosts and local database servers. This expanding array of devices at the edge plays a critical role in enhancing the customer experience but brings its own set of challenges. Moreover, it all needs to continually operate at peak efficiency. Relying on a central data centre to support all of these devices is not enough. A comprehensive IT management infrastructure in which all the resources can be managed, regardless of where or what those resources are, is key and edge computing could become a useful part of this. The retail sector is one industry that would particularly benefit from edge computing. Getting the edge on Industry 4.0 In manufacturing, the growth of the IoT is changing the game for IT requirements. Manufacturing IT systems are already complex today, and this complexity is only likely to increase in the future. A new generation of ‘smart’ field devices is coming, and this will spread technical innovations away from centralised IT data centres and closer to the production systems that have traditionally been the network edge for IT. Such devices might include wireless devices, RFID readers and tags. Not only will there be more computing power available at the edge, there will be a lot more data generated there. As these devices proliferate, the amount of information flowing across networks will need careful management to keep up response times and routing this information through local networks is one solution. These are not the only industries that would appreciate the advantages of incorporating edge computing into existing IT systems. Sectors with highly sensitive customer information such as finance or healthcare would benefit from the security and accessibility of the edge computing approach. After all, no-one can bear delays in accessing their savings or vital health records. Edge computing and the Internet of Things – a perfect match The success of the IoT is dependent on edge computing – without local data processing power, connected devices will not reach their full potential. Edge computing will be instrumental in creating a future where IoT is mainstream in smart homes, smart cities and industry. However, this doesn’t mean an all or nothing approach. Data centres will continue to provide most of computing, but they will more and more be supported by facilities on the edge of the network, providing rapid information for fast data processing for IoT networks and low latency applications for consumers. 33