Just as cloud computing and big data are making rapid inroads into every business, there is another technology phenomenon emerging which some are predicting will have more impact than even the internet.
The next technology wave is “Edge computing”, and some have dubbed this the end of cloud. With the rise of Internet of Things, low cost sensors and common devices integrating CPUS, the next tectonic shift in the IT landscape is underway. Much like the changes brought by the PC, internet browser and mobile phones, soon billions of devices, from cars to trainers, will have “computers”, changing the way we do business forever.
However, this doesn’t have to be the end of cloud, but an opportunity to generate even more return on current and planned investments in cloud and cognitive capabilities. By combining cloud based cognitive capabilities with edge computing, companies and consumers will be able to realize more value out of IT investments. The companies who can securely integrate these platforms into existing systems and unlock the value of data in real time will be the winners of the next major shift in IT.
One example is the IOC, “Internet of Cars.” Today a luxury car has 100 integrated CPUs and self-driving cars have even more – in fact, they are essentially a “data centre on wheels.” Imagine thousands of these data centres moving around at high speeds, communicating to each other and rendering data in real time so they don’t crash into each other or other objects.
To function safely they cannot afford the latency of a round trip to a date centre. On the other hand, cars will get traffic information, weather data and provide music streaming services from a local data centres, all the while storing and analysing key data in a secure cloud. Namely, one that is compliant with local regulations regarding data control, customer privacy and residency.
This is not science fiction, or only happening on a Silicon Valley motorways. Companies like Daimler for example, are bringing innovation to the automotive industry with the combined use of edge and cloud computing. Daimler pioneered the first free-floating car-sharing companies, car2go, and have gone onto use these technologies to create value-add customer services. By integrating data from vehicles, devices and systems, this allows businesses to create an integrated customer experience based on connected vehicle data. This improved customer experience is achieved by new levels of personalization, and creating a one-to-one dialogue with consumers – “car sharing on your terms.” In this way, edge and cloud technologies combine to connect the automotive experience to the larger ecosystem of connected devices and services.
Other industries like retail are also starting to integrate Point of Sale, ERP data, customer profiles, mobile and online data to provide a better customer experience and increase revenues. This integration can also extend to 3rd party data such as weather, supply chain and customer sentiment to reduce costs and improve inventory management. Walmart and other retailers have an initiative to simplify their complex supply chains by having automated edge compute located with farmers, brokers, distributors, regulators and consumers to communicate with a cloud based blockchain platform. These initiatives have already proven that they can improve food quality and safety, whilst reducing costs. A win for both the retailer and their customers.
These are just a couple of industry examples but there are many, many more in the manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, government and energy sectors, who are combining the power of edge computing with cloud and cognitive to drive value from the real time power of data.
We are rapidly moving on from a world where the amount of computing and data is restrained by the number of people with laptop and mobiles to billions of devices with connected computing power. Much like the mainframe still manages mission critical data today, edge computing is likely not to replace previous IT platforms but greatly enhance the investments in cloud and cognitive.
Edge computing may be in its early days but as we see the adoption of new technologies accelerating, now is the time to start architecting for disruption and living on the edge.