Choosing the Right Edge Infrastructure Solution

Around the world, businesses are undergoing digital transformation, projected to reach a staggering US$2.3 trillion by 2023. While the recent unprecedented circumstances have caused a slowdown, history shows that organisations that adopt a future-focused investment approach were more ready for the eventual rebound.

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The Role of Edge Computing

Accelerating digital transformation initiatives even in times of uncertainty hence make sense, especially if efforts revolve around making their businesses more efficient, innovative, and profitable. On this front, edge computing technology is often used to enable digital transformation, offering a host of benefits that we have previously covered.

Yet edge computing isn’t without its share of challenges. Key among them is the management of sophisticated computing systems at remote or unmonitored locations. What are the options available when something goes wrong, and how can the systems be adequately maintained?

According to Jonathan Healey of Schneider Electric, below are some considerations for choosing the right edge infrastructure solution.

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Vendor reputation: One benefit of the huge amount of interest in edge deployments is that there is no current lack of solutions that can be deployed at the edge. When shortlisting the right vendor, however, it makes sense to narrow them down to vendors that are knowledgeable in both Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT). Even better if the vendor is a specialist in your industry vertical and has a track record of being in business – such as Schneider Electric.

Cloud-based management: Healey advises that unless constrained by regulation, organisations should always prioritise a cloud-based edge management system over one that can only be managed on the ground. A cloud-based management solution is easier to deploy and offer more robust analytics and benchmarking for more improvements in the long-term. Moreover, a Software as a Service (SaaS) management solution typically offer additional advantages such as firmware upgrades, security patches, or even device security vulnerability accessible – the latter is available as part of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT Expert service.

Local support: As noted previously, edge computing environments don’t typically have the luxury of onsite IT support. In some cases, there is a small support team, but which is tasked with managing dozens or even hundreds of edge locations. Given that a site visit is sometimes necessary. It makes sense to work with a vendor that is present in the geographies where the edge assets are deployed. Furthermore, the chosen solutions should ideally be designed with openness in mind and can be managed with other top management tools such as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Platform.

Security: Finally, care must also be taken to ensure that the huge amount of data generated by edge systems are not compromised. Enterprises cannot afford to assume but should verify that the security measures taken by any potential vendor are adequate. Possible questions might be whether two-factor authentication, strong encryption, and the safeguards to ensure privacy. This is vital given the growth of data privacy regulations around the world, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe or the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) in Singapore.

Article by Michael Kurniawan, Vice President – Singapore, Malaysia & Brunei, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric