Businesses today increasingly want more of their data to be processed at the network edge, closer to the people, machines and applications that use it. According to IT research firm Gartner, by 2022, 75 percent of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside of a traditional data centre or cloud. That’s a significant jump from 2018 when the total was less than 10 percent.

Where exactly is the network edge? There is no set definition. The edge could be an Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled device analyzing and collecting local information, it could be a mobile handset, or it could be a remote network gateway. 

There are a range of benefits organizations can realize by shifting more of their data processing to the network edge. They include:

  • Less Latency and Faster Processing: Many IoT and artificial intelligence applications require data to be analyzed as quickly as it is generated. The best example is self-driving cars, which need a constant stream of up-to-date information to accurately navigate streets and highways. But almost any application can benefit from faster data processing including equities trading and analysis applications, traffic monitoring and healthcare.
  • Better Reliability: Data that’s processed at, or close to, a local device, relies less on network connectivity. This means that a network outage or slowdown won’t have much, if any, impact.
  • Cost Savings: Processing data closer to the network edge means businesses don’t have to consume as much bandwidth transporting information over long distances or store it in a central location. It also allows organizations to keep less important data off their network, storing it locally at the edge until it’s needed.
  • Security: Data that travels shorter distances is more secure because there’s less opportunity for it to be intercepted or interrupted.

Edge computing requires businesses to invest in learning, training and process development. The organizations that stand to benefit the most include those who rely heavily on artificial intelligence or machine learning or have a significant investment in IoT-enabled devices. But over time, as 5G wireless rolls out and last-mile connectivity improves, shifting more resources to the edge will become a priority for more and more businesses.

The shift to a more edge-computing intensive IT model will require extensive planning. For example, as companies deploy more intelligent devices they should consider how those devices can share information to build a more complete picture of the organization to drive operational efficiencies. IT teams will also need to decide where it makes sense to create new data repositories and deploy new compute resources closer to end users, while still maintaining centralized data centre resources for some applications and data.

If you need help planning an edge computing strategy, CDW Canada has trained technology experts who can assess your existing infrastructure, help you decide where committing more resources to the edge makes sense and identify solutions that will meet your goals.

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