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How the Reliance of Edge Computing Will Shape Our New Normal
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October 13, 2021 News

 

Written by: Muhammad Zulhusni, Journalist, AOPG

According to the World Economic Forum, machines will handle half of all work tasks by 2025. Autonomation must be combined with data sensing and analytics intelligence to scale effectively, and edge computing will become increasingly important for real-time optimal production.

Edge computing is a distributed computing model in which computing occurs close to the physical location where data is collected and analysed rather than on a centralised server or in the cloud. This facilitates the ability to deliver levels of latency and throughput that are simply not possible with a more centralised approach. On top of that, organisations are able to keep more of their data on-site, which reduces both security risks and bandwidth costs. As such, it is becoming a vital component for enabling enterprises to accelerate the digital transformation of their business operations.

It’s starting to look like, going forward, traditional data centres will no longer suffice. In an interview with DTA, Lin Hoe Foong, Managing Director of Asia South, Stratus Technologies, discussed the global edge computing megatrends and why it is a must-have technology.

Lin Hoe mentioned that one of the megatrends is the Industrial 4.0 transformation, which is underway in many manufacturing plants.

“The transformation itself has actually driven quite a lot of automation solutions implementation, where edge computing is key. Edge computing is deemed to enable seamless connection all the way from providing insights to adding smooth workflow from the factory floor to the productivity and beyond,” said Lin Hoe.

He also mentioned the widespread use of computing technologies in a variety of industries, particularly the energy and utilities sectors. And that they will be among the early adopters of edge computing in 2020. These specific industries account for a sizable 17% of the global edge computing market.

Furthermore, these industries employ edge computing in smart grids, where power distribution is critical, and the edge serves as an intermediary, facilitating storage and communication between computing resources and the smart grid that controls the centre of things. This is a large area where edge computing is used.

“A lot of countries today are actually building up a lot of infrastructure for smart cities. Smart cities are definitely another area that edge computing is driving adoption on or where IoT applications are being deployed, where connectivity is needed at the edge, so that’s actually definitely an area that is driving adoption for edge computing as well.”

Aside from these two industries, healthcare is another one that is more important than ever. Lin Hoe stated that they see an increase in the use of edge computing in this industry, particularly in the areas of remote patient care, remote patient record management, some intervention, and continuous patient monitoring.

Accelerated Edge Innovation with the Arrival of 5G 

On top of that, the arrival of 5G will drive edge computing to be even more innovative.

5G brings a lot of promises, according to Lin Hoe. It is supposed to be ten times faster than what we are currently experiencing, the network is supposed to support up to 100 times more devices than the current 4G network can support, and it is supposedly capable of delivering network infrastructure with near-zero downtime.

Lin Hoe sees these capabilities as a good complement to 5G and edge computing. Whether on-premises or in a near-edge data centre, edge computing will continue to be critical infrastructure for data harnessing and processing.

According to Lin Hoe, 5G and edge computing can be combined in two ways: they facilitate machine-to-machine communication, which opens up new possibilities for new technologies and reduces latency and increases connectivity speed.

With the benefits of edge computing, he believes that ASEAN organisations must begin looking at its market to transform their businesses.

As more organisations embark on a cloud journey, it will work well with edge computing. According to Lin Hoe, edge computing is the link between the cloud or, more traditionally, the data centre and the smart devices deployed in the field.

As a result, the adoption of edge computing will skyrocket, and Lin Hoe sees it as a critical enabler for the last mile of digital transformation.

“A lot of work for digital transformation is happening or has happened really at the enterprise layer. What is happening now, couple that with the Industrial 4.0 initiative, edge computing is being used and deployed at the edge through the last mile of digital transformation and we see it as a key enabler,” said Lin Hoe.

Nevertheless, while edge computing is fantastic, not everyone will be able to fully utilise the technology – particularly in geographically dispersed countries that may face network infrastructure issues. They can’t rely on the cloud because it’s too far away, and there may be a latency issue. Due to the high cost of setting up an on-premises data centre, it may also be impractical for many.

Addressing the Challenges of Edge Implementation

Despite the network issues, Xyvier Goh, Regional Sales Manager (North ASEAN), Stratus Technologies, believes that advanced technologies such as AI and ML must be adopted and integrated quickly – particularly for applications that enable real-time data analytics or real-time control.

In order to ensure a successful implementation of edge computing, thoughtful architecture and implementation is required, which can be a challenge without the right expertise. After all, edge means more data will be collected and analysed from a number of different sites that have to be configured and monitored – thereby adding complexity. Additionally, these decentralised locations usually have fewer technical personnel on-site to conduct maintenance and troubleshooting. These challenges can be addressed by working with knowledgeable system integrators and using the right edge technology.

Xyvier said, “That’s where Stratus comes into play to support these types of customers. We actually provide simple protected and autonomous edge computing for these users or businesses, and we actually come in and address a lot of their typical pain points.”

Stratus Technologies enables their global partners and customers to transform data into actionable insights where it matters the most – at the edge. They’ve protected partners and customers from significant financial and reputational risk by securely and reliably delivering data to cloud and data centre applications. They are now extending these advantages to the edge in order to maximise operational efficiency, improve performance and safety, and reduce unplanned downtime and costs.

In addition, with technologies evolving all around us, there is no denying that edge computing could raise new concerns about cybersecurity. Xyvier addressed this issue by saying, “There are two parts to it. One is looking inwards towards Stratus Technology ourselves and one is when we look outwards to our customers.”

Internally, Stratus has a “three-part strategy.” The first step is to ensure that their products are developed securely – if they use open-source modules, they constantly inspect these modules to ensure that they are patched up to date to avoid vulnerability concerns.

Second, they always incorporate cybersecurity capabilities into their products. “We have a host-based firewall built into our product. We are able to also restrict the various ports on the server itself and we also have a secure trusted boot in our servers. This ensures that users are able to do the basic cybersecurity features,” explained Xyvier.

The final component of their “three-part strategy,” is that they collaborate and work with their industry peers to constantly monitor for threats and provide security updates or patches if any problems arise.

In terms of the external aspect, they provide their customers with cybersecurity applications. They have proof of concept testing with well-known players such as Sage and Claroty. As a result, they can market and offer a bundle of cybersecurity products to their customers.

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