The Intelligent Edge is a game-changer in enterprise computing. Harnessing the intelligent edge to bring computing “closer” to where the action is will help usher in a new wave of applications, many in real-time.
Early on in this new tech-driven revolution that we’re a part of, all data stored in the cloud was essentially housed in a data center somewhere. That data center could be in the same state as you, in the same country, or even halfway around the world – it didn’t matter.
This is fine when you’re talking about retrieving documents or sharing files with employees. Once you start to venture into the world of AI on-demand, and once you begin to integrate AI into your applications and platforms, things get a bit more demanding. Partially to address this challenge, the concept of edge computing was born. Edge computing is the idea that all computing should be done as close to the source of data as possible, rather than relying on the capabilities of a remote data center to do all the work on your behalf.
All of this is great when you’re talking about a small enterprise or about a personal smartphone with a modest number of devices that are all connected and sharing data securely.
But what if you’re talking about a smart factory floor filled with not only sensors but also autonomous equipment that is also working alongside humans? What if you’re talking about “smart buildings” that are built to handle everything from climate control to power management automatically? What about smart farms, or hospitals, or cities?
That, in essence, is what the Intelligent Edge is all about.
Enter: The Intelligence on the Edge
The most important aspect of the Intelligent Edge, like edge computing before it, is the connectivity aspect of it all. Devices, IoT “things” and even people all connect via a network, creating and sharing massive volumes of data in real-time.
But equally important to the Intelligent Edge are the systems that are put in place to make sense of that data and extract insight from it. These systems provide users with access to the applications they need to better understand the data in question, allowing them to act on it as quickly as possible.
That control element – the ability of users to take action and control everything located on the edge – is what truly separates it from the systems of yesteryear. By having a mechanism in place that allows you to configure, actuate, or even orchestrate everything in the edge you’re able to deliver better services to your end-users where they are, all while avoiding the limitations of being forced to work with remote data centers or faraway clouds at the same time.
Unlocking the Potential of the Intelligent Edge
By embracing the Intelligent Edge, businesses enjoy a far more efficient use of bandwidth than ever before. By creating a shorter distance between A) the point where data is created, and B) the point where it needs to be processed, reduces bandwidth costs and improves network visibility.
That shorter distance can also dramatically reduce latency – meaning the amount of time that passes between the time when you make a request and the time when you get a response. One can easily see how this creates a scenario where autonomous cars and other self-driving vehicles can react to environmental changes in real-time, thus keeping passengers safe. Industrial robots would be able to work while surrounded by human employees, all while navigating the challenges inherent in unpredictable environments like factories.
Regardless, the major benefit here is that you can’t just quickly (and in some cases, instantly) process high volumes of data – you’re also bringing these capabilities to remote areas and even challenging environments at the same time.
Putting the Power of the Intelligent Edge to Good Use
In addition to the use case of autonomous vehicles as outlined above, there are a potentially limitless number of ways in which the Intelligent Edge can benefit all of us.
One of the biggest of these takes the form of industrial manufacturing. By incorporating this level of data storage and computing power into the types of industrial equipment commonly found on factory floors, manufacturers can effortlessly gather data that will give them greater insight into their operations than ever before. They’ll be able to capitalize on better predictive maintenance, for example, to allow them to maximize the total cost of ownership of their assets. Ongoing data collection made possible by the Intelligent Edge can also help customize even the most niche production runs, all to better meet the demands of more specific audiences.
Or, consider the example of how the Intelligent Edge can be used in the financial sector – an industry where even an imperceptible amount of lag in a trading algorithm can cause a substantial loss of money for a hedge fund. The Intelligent Edge would allow financial institutions to place data centers physically close to stock exchanges, all to run those trading algorithms as close to the data being generated as possible. This would allow professionals to always have access to the most up-to-date information they need to not only make more informed decisions but to make them as quickly as humanly possible.
But maybe the biggest example of the potential of the Intelligent Edge takes the form of smart cities – something that can transform how people live and interact with urban environments over the next decade. Imagine a world where you’re living in a city that can dynamically react to changing conditions as they’re happening.
This is true not only in terms of things like utility usage and key infrastructure components but also in things like traffic patterns. In that scenario, public officials would be able to better understand their constituents and respond to problems faster than ever. They’d be able to understand utilities and other public services needs in a way that makes energy efficiency a foregone conclusion. They’d be able to do so in a way that traditional cloud solutions wouldn’t be able to guarantee, which is a big part of the reason why the Intelligent Edge is so crucial.
Companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprise are already working with farms in India, for just one example, to help make sure there will be enough food for our exploding global population. Sanjay Mujoo, the Vice President of HPE Pointnext Services, said that “as technology has the potential to increase the efficiency, quality, and sustainability of agriculture across the country, we are enabling farmers to access the requisite digital tools, which can help them make informed decisions.”
Even the Australian government is already using the Intelligent Edge to operate drones that patrol its coasts for sharks and other predators that could endanger its citizens.
Regardless of the use case, the overarching theme is clear. “The real value of the Intelligent Edge may lie in how it can expand and amplify an organization’s ability to sense and respond with greater speed and agility,” according to experts at Deloitte in a piece published in the Wall Street Journal.
When you consider just how far these concepts have come in even the last five years, it’s truly exciting to think about what the next five may have in store for us all.