This blog is Part 3 of our series, “Data on the Edge.”
Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

The well-storied “data deluge” is driving enterprises of all sizes and industries to move critical applications and workloads to the “edge” of their network infrastructure where data can be acted on immediately. Driven by the proliferation of 5G, IoT and AI, as well as a flood of new devices enabling all that connectivity, industry experts expect the global edge market to grow from $1.17 billion in 2016 to USD $6.73 billion by 2022.

Edge computing enables efficient data processing near the source to minimize latency, reduce bandwidth usage and lower costs while improving compliance, security and resiliency. What’s not to love? Virtually any industry sector that can benefit from the timely analysis of IoT data streams should be looking to create and implement an edge strategy for their data infrastructure.

But where does a smart business begin to build and implement an edge strategy? While certain generalities can be made regarding which types of applications and workloads should be processed at the edge vs. centrally, e.g., data storage and analysis, edge computing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each organization has its own unique circumstances that will ultimately drive its edge strategy.

Setting an effective and future-proof edge strategy starts with four basic questions that every organization should ask itself:

1. Why does my business need an edge strategy?

Edge computing is extremely versatile with numerous relevant use-cases, but is it right for your enterprise? Do you have latency-sensitive applications or use-cases? In industries like healthcare and finance, latency down to the millisecond is everything. The ability to read and update data in real-time by skipping the roundtrip to the cloud can make the difference between life and death, or in millions of dollars.

For some companies, on the other hand, edge computing is a secondary architecture that’s not mission-critical, but it does drive revenue. Latency costs money. Speed drives revenue.

The bottom line: Consider your company’s primary goal and value proposition. Is your goal to enhance existing enterprise applications, or to create new and uniquely engaging customer experiences. A tailored edge strategy, properly executed, can potentially change your business in a way that delights your users and sets you apart from the competition.

2. What is my business’ existing infrastructure for data deployment?

Don't misunderstand the role of your edge strategy: It's not about replacing a cloud provider but rather augmenting those capabilities to deliver on your company’s desired business outcomes. While edge computing requires an infrastructure with the capacity and bandwidth to ingest, transform, analyze, and act on enormous volumes of data in real time, it must be integrated into your existing IT architecture and landscape.

Following are four (4) initial infrastructure question to consider:

  • Are you building your own edge?
  • Do you currently leverage a cloud-based solution, or do you work with a colocation partner
  • How large and distributed is your edge?
  • Will your infrastructure benefit from creating a hybrid edge ecosystem?

3. What will the future of my organization look like?

Dynamic organizations need to plan ahead when it comes to edge design. Choosing an edge solution that can support expansion is a key decision point to consider. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How will edge computing help you integrate intelligent technologies into your business and deliver new value in a dynamic world?
  • What new opportunities will IoT bring, and how will it help you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
  • How will your business evolve to meet user demand?

Working with a solution that can support expansion is key. The decision around the edge will depend on your use case and how your business will continue to grow and evolve.

4. What are my security and compliance needs?

No good edge computing strategy can ignore issues of security and compliance. Just as in cloud computing, an edge strategy must rise to meet the spectrum of security threats, including new ones that are inherent to edge computing. And be sure to work with a service provider that meets industry and government regulations and understands General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. (Conducting analysis close to the data’s source is often a requirement for complying with the GDPR’s strict rules.)

CONCLUSION:

Your ability to deliver real-time value to your end user determines your relevance as a company. Think of edge computing as an “and” with your existing infrastructure and not an “or.” And remember: (1) you don’t have to disrupt your core business; and (2) you don’t have to go it alone.

Small steps are often better than big leaps, especially when you venture off the beaten path. Develop your vision for the future alongside a qualified partner. And keep developing and refining your strategy as you work toward your goal.

Start the conversation about edge by contacting us at Contact Flexential today for assistance in developing a working edge strategy—sooner rather than later. You can reach us online or at 888-552-FLEX.

This blog is Part 3 of Tim Parker’s series, “Data on the Edge.”
Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Tim Parker

Vice President of Network Strategy
Tim Parker, Vice President of Network Strategy

Tim is the vice president of network strategy at Flexential, where he is responsible for guiding the company's interconnection ecosystem and developing network strategies and architectures for Flexential's HybridEdge Strategy. Tim has more than 25 years of experience in delivering high-performance customer service in the IT and Telecommunication sector.