Edge data is creating new opportunities for businesses. How will you capitalize on them?
As someone who spends a lot of time in tech circles, I frequently hear people saying things like, “data is moving from the cloud to the edge,” or “infrastructure is moving from the data center to the edge.”
Unfortunately, these statements are inaccurate and create misunderstandings. Even with the broad expansion of edge computing, data and infrastructure are not moving out of clouds or data centers. The workloads that exist in those locations are there for a reason, performing important functions, and will remain there until compelling business reasons inspire us to relocate them (or, more likely, retire them when they’re no longer necessary).
Data is growing at the edge
It is, however, true to say that data GROWTH is moving to the edge. Massive amounts of new data are being created at the edge – that’s the engine, the root cause, of the whole emerging technology space that is the edge. Edge data and edge infrastructure environments are expanding rapidly, but they are not taking non-edge data or hardware with them. The interesting point here is that the data growth that is coming is unlike any we have seen before. It will be large enough and fast enough that it will quickly overshadow all other data sources, creating both massive new opportunities and massive new challenges.
Despite the stunning amount of data that will be created at the edge, traditional data handling and processing capabilities exist primarily in data centers and clouds. So, we must either move edge data to the compute (as we have traditionally done in the past), or we move compute out to the edge data.
Too big to move
Edge data is often too big to move. It can create security and privacy concerns if moved and, by backhauling edge data to a remote location, we may lose the opportunity to analyze and act on it in a fast and reliable way. This defeats much of the purpose of collecting edge data in the first place.
By contrast, processing edge data at the edge allows us to generate value that simply was not possible even just a few years ago.
The edge is its own universe
Edge data is unique from other business data in that it is created by a multitude of advanced sensors, cameras, and IoT devices. If managed correctly, with processing at the source, edge data can drive vast new business opportunities and manage tasks that have until now been manual, costly, and often unreliable.
An example is using high-definition video to perform quality assurance monitoring on a manufacturing line. With AI, we can generate highly accurate measurements to ensure that every aspect of an individual component is within tolerance before proceeding down the line. This involves multiple high-resolution cameras streaming video data from numerous sources and aimed at multiple production lines. Every second of video data must be instantly processed through the AI model to ensure accuracy and consistency. And remember – it’s streaming data, so there’s never an opportunity to catch up if you fall behind!
If you’re sending that data to a traditional cloud data center, you are dependent on a very high-speed internet connection that’s 100% available – an expensive way to generate value. Or, in the new edge compute paradigm, you process that data onsite, placing edge compute right next to the cameras for near-real-time responses, with far fewer components to maintain (and pay for).
Edge compute reduces risk
Computer vision is also accelerating transformation within retail, analyzing shopper traffic flow within stores to determine where high-margin products are best placed. This helps ensure that shopper attention is drawn to key merchandise and that display inventory remains stocked throughout the day. This is another case of streaming data that never stops, but it also involves risk: sending video of people shopping can violate privacy regulations, particularly in the event of a data breach.
The safer way to generate value from a video use case like this is to process on premises while immediately destroying any source data that might include personally identifying characteristics. This approach reduces the risk of a data breach because only the conclusions generated by the aggregate data are saved. The rest is removed and destroyed.
The new age of edge
The edge has been described as “the oldest emerging technology space on the planet.” While it’s true we’ve had technology distributed throughout business locations for many years, the types and volumes of data being generated at the edge today are growing and evolving in ways we have never had to contend with before. Data and workloads are not shifting from the cloud or data centers to the edge. Instead, the edge has become as a crucial hub for the net-new creation and processing of unique data, allowing for the delivery of high-value outcomes.
By effectively managing edge data at the edge, businesses can unlock unprecedented value and differentiate themselves in highly competitive markets. Embracing these opportunities can revolutionize industries and help us address the world’s most pressing challenges.
Learn more about Dell Technologies solutions at the edge.
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