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On the Edge of Something Big

Data is the new gold. It has become critical to businesses today, and now businesses of all sizes must rethink their data and compute strategies to meet demands. As Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) become more entrenched in our day-to-day lives, they are driving changes to the ways computing workloads are deployed.

Once you also factor in 5G and the prevalence of mobile device usage, it’s easy to see why so many organizations are shifting their computing to the geographical edge of their businesses where they can deploy as close as possible to end-users and devices.

Legacy infrastructure that we continue to use today was not designed to handle the massive amounts of data that we expect to flow through them in the near future. Also, take into account organizations’ desire to create better customer experience offerings and protect their respective brand reputations. It’s clear that the threats and opportunities of the “data avalanche” are real.

Reasons why companies are moving toward the edge vary. They range from improved performance to better customer experience and heightened data security and cost-savings. Because of this, it’s clear the case is building for enterprises to deploy data on the edge sooner rather than later. In fact, in a recent survey, approximately half of all respondents reported they are using edge computing already, while the other half surveyed are planning to move to the edge within the next 12 months.

Below are the top four reasons your organization needs an edge strategy now:

1. Cost

Successfully moving to the edge requires smart, quick decisions about the data that needs to be processed at the edge. Which is unnecessary and which data should be sent back to the core data center? Questions like these are necessary to answer. Additionally, there is a significant cost to moving vast amounts of data over long distances. By processing data closer to end-users, enterprises can reduce bandwidth usage and costs, and ensure that users are able to access their applications efficiently and securely no matter where they are.  

2. Advances in Gaming and Video Content

There is a real advantage to be gained for gaming and video by moving to the edge. In a recent survey, 92% of respondents cited video content delivery as the top driver of edge computing. With virtual reality and gaming advances happening quickly, as well as the imminent increase on data demands from 4K resolution video to a much higher 8K, it’s clear that with current systems, we’ll have capacity issues. By processing game data and video closer to players and streamers (rather than sending it to distant data centers), providers can optimize video for the end users while simultaneously reducing transit costs and delivering a higher-quality, low-latency stream.

Take visual AI as an example, high definition video and interactive sports are driving connectivity and data demands well beyond levels ever dreamed. Visual images of traffic, people, or our environment, are changing how we interact with our living spaces. The ability to analyze visual data and make smart decisions is both latency and bandwidth sensitive. The closer you are to the source, the better the accuracy and the experience. 

3. 5G

5G is already here. AT&T is touting their 5G capabilities and Verizon is claiming it is the “first to 5G,” with deployments currently underway in select markets. More mobile carriers are investing in 5G connectivity, which brings one hundred times the capacity of 4G to our mobile devices. With higher speed, low latency and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once, the amount of data traffic at the edge is exponentially higher than the current infrastructure can support. Adjustments need to be made.

4. Emerging Technology

We are already living in a world of AI and IoT, where we use a deluge of mobile devices, but we need infrastructure to command all that connectivity. The number of IoT devices in use is expected to exceed 50 billion by the year 2020, which could generate over one trillion network packets per second, all destined to go someplace. So, why not get closer to them?

Whether we’re using smart devices to track packages or smart sensors to monitor your health and wellness in real-time, we are approaching a truly digitally transformed world. IoT will deliver services never before imagined across verticals. However, it takes a strong network to handle the deluge of data and to ensure the successful delivery of that data.

Today’s Decisions Will Drive Future Success

With reports that over 80% of traditional data center deployments will be disrupted by 2025, businesses need to make plans now about where to process their data, where edge comes into play and any potential need for fog computing.

The decisions businesses make today impact outcomes and the bottom line for years to come. Making a move to the edge now gives your business a leg up on the competition in the future. However, not every company has the capacity to do it alone. Seek qualified partners to help you create a working strategy—sooner rather than later.

About the Author

Tim Parker is VP 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. He has led network teams for Motorola, Charles Schwab, Paypal, and GoDaddy.com before joining Flexential (formerly ViaWest) in 2015.

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