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Behind the buzzwords

Edge computing is a hot topic in IT, especially with vendors in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. But what does edge computing really mean?

Typically, you capture data at the “edge” of your network. That data could be readings from IoT sensors or video from drone-mounted cameras, but it could also be something much more commonplace, such as data keyed into a PC or tapped into a tablet by employees at one of your stores or branch offices.

For several decades, the common practice has been to immediately send all this data to a central system for processing. Central processing provides an easy way to ensure consistency and a single source of truth, but it can also be relatively wasteful. You’re sending large amounts of data over the network, even though the central system may only be interested storing or processing a tiny proportion of it.

Edge computing proposes a different approach: you initially process the data where it’s collected, using local compute infrastructure, and only send the results of that processing to the central system for storage and further analysis. This can be a big win when the volume of data collected is large, such as in IoT or video analytics use cases.

However, if you look at it through a slightly different lens, edge computing isn’t such a new concept. It’s tackling fundamentally the same problems as any company that has both local and centralised systems, or a hybrid of on-premises and cloud systems. For example, any retailer that has both in-store point-of-sale systems and an in-house or cloud-based ERP system is dealing with the same issues.

Why you don’t need to live on the edge to benefit from edge computing

 

Challenges of hybrid infrastructures

One of the biggest challenges with any kind of hybrid environment – edge computing or hybrid multicloud – is maintaining consistency. Once the software and infrastructure at different locations or in different clouds start to diverge, the complexity of the landscape increases rapidly, and can quickly become unmanageable.

What you need is a centralised approach to design standards across all your locations and platforms. That way, you can ensure that whenever you create a new node in your network—whether that’s adding a new checkout in one of your stores, installing a new sensor on one of your production lines, launching a new application instance in the cloud, or just setting up a new server at one of your offices—the entire environment conforms to a standard build. What’s more, with a modern containerised approach, you can typically deploy exactly the same code to multiple different platforms without any modifications, accelerating updates and minimising costs.

How Northdoor can help

Hybrid environments are complex by definition, and that’s why it pays to work with a hybrid multicloud and edge computing expert, especially when you’re first moving from a simpler, fully centralised paradigm.

As one of the UK’s most experienced and technically skilled consultancies, Northdoor can help to guide you through the design and deployment of your hybrid multicloud landscape—and if you prefer, our managed services team can help you run and support it too.

Boost into orbit with IBM Cloud Satellite

Northdoor’s approach builds on IBM Cloud Satellite, which simplifies the configuration and management of hybrid cloud and edge computing solutions. With IBM Cloud Satellite, you can use a single API to create a satellite location, build standardised environments, and deploy them wherever you need—in your on-premises data centre, at one of your edge locations, or on any public cloud platform.

If you’re interested in learning more about edge computing and hybrid cloud services from Northdoor, it couldn’t be easier. To arrange a consultation with a Northdoor expert today, just follow this link.

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