Measuring the edge: Finding success with edge deployments

To make the most of edge computing investments, it’s important to first understand objectives and expectations.

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Edge computing deployments are well underway as companies seek to better process the wealth of data being generated, for example, by Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

So, what are the results? Plus, how can you ensure success with your own edge projects?

Measurements of success

The use cases for edge computing deployments vary widely, as do the business drivers and, ultimately, the benefits.

Whether they’re seeking improved network or application performance, real-time data analytics, a better customer experience, or other efficiencies, enterprises are accomplishing their goals. Based on two surveys — one by Automation World and another by Futurum Research — respondents have reported:

  • Decreased network downtime
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased profitability/reduced costs
  • Improved business processes

Basically, success metrics can be bucketed into two categories: direct value propositions and cost reductions. In the former, companies are seeking results that measure revenue generation — such as improved digital experiences with customers and users. In the latter, metrics that prove the value of digitizing processes — like speed, quality, and efficacy — will demonstrate success with edge deployments.

Goalposts for success with edge

Edge computing deployments are underway. But before diving in, understand what’s driving these projects.

According to the Futurum Research, 29% of respondents are currently investing in edge infrastructure, and 62% expect to adopt within the year. For these companies, the driving force has been the business, which expects operational efficiencies from these investments. Beyond that, there’s an expectation down the road to better align with IoT strategy.

That being the case, it’s worth considering your business case before diving into edge. Ask: Are you seeking innovation and revenue generation amid digital transformation efforts? Or is your company looking for a low-risk, “test the waters” type of investment in edge?

Next up, what type of edge project makes sense for your environment? Edge data centers fall into three categories: local devices for a specific purpose (e.g., an appliance for security systems or a gateway for cloud-to-premises storage); small local data centers (typically one to 10 racks for storage and processing); and regional data centers (10+ racks for large office spaces).

Then, think about these best practices before talking with vendors:

  • Management: Especially for unmanned edge data centers, remote management is critical. You’ll need predictive alerts and a service contract that enables IT to be just as resilient as a regular data center.
  • Security:Much of today’s conversation has been around data security. That starts with physical protection. Too many data breaches — including theft and employee error — are caused by physical access to IT assets.
  • Standardization: There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to edge data center deployments. Using standard components makes it easier for the internal IT team to deploy, manage, and maintain.

Finally, consider the ecosystem. The end-to-end nature of edge requires not just technology integration, but also that all third parties work well together. A good ecosystem connects customers, partners, and vendors. 

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