Welcome to the Edge, where Physical meets Digital

Defined as the practice of computing at the fringe of the network, edge computing has gained substantial attention in recent years. The appeal of edge computing lies in its proximity to end-users, and its ability to deliver instantaneous data processing for latency-sensitive applications without the need to send data back to the cloud.

Cityscape with edge computing network

The Rise of Edge Computing

The benefits on the ground are many and varied. For a start, the Internet of Things (IoT) deployments can benefit from a local node that manages data locally. This drastically reduces the need for cloud and network resources and is especially useful in remote places with limited or unreliable connectivity.

Another benefit of edge computing is an opportunity to better manage risk with the distribution of data across more than one location. With data managed and stored on multiple autonomous nodes, this means that a failure of the cloud or outage in a connectivity link will not bring business to a halt.

Finally, edge computing offers the opportunity to bridge IT with operational technology (OT). As an example, a legacy video surveillance system can be wired to an edge computing system with advanced video analytics capabilities. The store can hence gather valuable insights, including identifying hazards to monitoring customer behaviour in real-time.

Visual graph of edge computing network

Use Cases

But what are some practical use cases for edge computing? According to McKinsey, use cases range from areas such as transportation, energy, and even utilities. Autonomous vehicles, for instance, must make instantaneous driving decisions based on data to avoid potentially fatal consequences. The edge computer in this instance would be within the car itself and supporting roadside units designed to help autonomous vehicles.

Offshore drilling rigs are another example. With data generated from multiple sensors and limited connectivity when deployed out at sea, the massive amount of data must be analysed and acted upon by powerful computing equipment installed within the oil rig itself. The same is true for the myriad of sensor modules used a typical water treatment plant to monitor sensors installed in pipes and systems.

Indeed, the management consulting firm had identified over 100 edge computing use cases and estimates that edge computing will generate a value of over $200 billion in hardware by 2025.

Keeping the Edge Running

But building a robust edge deployment requires some thinking and must be paired with holistic design to ensure that there is no single point of failure, notes Rajesh Thangaraj of Schneider Electric.

Thangaraj pointed to research by EMC that shows how organisations in Australia experienced an average of three days of unexpected downtime due to power outages per year. What’s more, the recovery of interconnected digital systems is complex and lengthy. The solution? Ensure that power is always available by deploying a good UPS such as APC by Schneider Electric.

It is worth noting that Schneider Electric’s integrated edge solutions enable businesses to deliver next-gen customer experiences. Schneider Electric offers a range of EcoStruxure solutions to deploy edge computing, from micro data centres, to smart-UPS systems to help businesses build a sustainable edge.

You can read more Schneider Electric solutions that address edge computing here.

Bhagwati Prasad, Vice President, Business Development, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric