Five practical considerations for edge deployments
By Scott Loughmiller, CPO and co-founder of Scale Computing
It’s been over a decade since Marc Andreessen published his provocative essay, “Why Software is Eating the World.” In this paper, he argued that every company, regardless of industry, will need to evolve into a software company to survive and thrive in the digital economy. Ten years on, we continue to see the disruptive impact of software-driven innovations across every industrial sector. There’s little doubt that the appetite for software will diminish anytime soon.
As the recent Forrester Research report on the Future of Edge Computing noted in its opening sentence, “in the future, software will run everywhere; edge computing is how it will happen, and it might not all be pretty.”
The reasons that companies across practically every major industry prioritize edge computing are both varied and plentiful. Some organizations realize that relying on the cloud for specific mission-critical applications is a non-starter. Meanwhile, other businesses recognize that to gain a competitive advantage, they must leverage all the data at their disposal to drive the real-time decisions that fuel innovation.
Whatever the individual use case, the interest in edge computing has hit an inflection point as recent advancements in hardware, networking, and software have brought edge computing into a sharp focus.
While every edge deployment shares many common characteristics, each one is distinct in its own way. If you’ve been thinking about how edge computing might benefit your organization, yet are unsure where to start, keep the following five considerations in mind as you evaluate and embark on your journey to the edge:
1. Change Your Mindset
Edge computing not only represents a paradigm shift from a technological standpoint; it also requires us to rethink how IT services are built and delivered. Similarly, the cloud once forced us to re-evaluate IT two decades ago. A successful edge deployment lays the groundwork for you to develop at the speed and scale desired, without the restraints of cumbersome infrastructure or the lack of qualified IT staff. Edge platform software packaged for uncontrolled, non-IT environments and centralized management makes it easy to run applications anywhere while reducing IT workload.
2. Physical Space & Equipment Requirements
Unlike the highly controlled and regulated environment in a modern data center, edge deployments are marked more by their irregularities than their uniformity. Edge adopters must consider the size of the actual equipment and its requirements for power, access space, security, climate control, and cabling. They must also carefully evaluate other aspects of their environment such as fluctuating temperatures, ventilation, dust, moisture, and other ambient factors.
3. Shipping & Installation
Because edge sites often span across distant geographies and have few skilled IT staff on hand, the logistics of how to deliver and configure edge equipment must be considered beforehand. Selecting an edge solution that can pre-install all the necessary components for a streamlined rollout will minimize opportunities for manual configuration mishaps, help enable a true plug-and-play experience for users, and vastly speed up an edge deployment.
4. Rapid Deployment & Scalability
Edge solution providers should design deployment to get users from unboxing to creating virtual machines (VMs) and deploying applications with minimal friction. Setup should be straightforward enough for even non-technical users to understand. In this case, they will simply follow a few simple step-by-step directions, such as assigning IP addresses, entering a license code in a cloud-based web console, or alternatively, allowing the edge appliances to configure themselves.
5. Centralized Monitoring & Management
With computing infrastructure distributed at the edge, you must think about how you will monitor and manage it. Especially since you won’t be able to count on having the same skilled resources available 24/7 to troubleshoot issues when they arise. For this reason, avoid physical interventions on site. Instead, automated technologies such as Fleet Manager and Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) enable your on-site IT staff to remotely monitor, configure and manage their distributed assets from a centralized location.
As software applications continue to provide companies with advanced possibilities for business growth and innovation, the infrastructure to run those applications will become a critical enabler of these capabilities. Current legacy and cloud solutions remain inadequate as they struggle to scale when adding new applications or supporting major data growth. Organizations adopting innovative edge computing solutions early on are positioning themselves for future success.
About the Author
Scott Loughmiller is the Chief Product Officer and co-founder of Scale Computing, a market leader in edge computing, virtualization, and hyperconverged solutions.
DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review (EdgeIR.com).
application security | device management | DevOps | edge hardware | HCI | Scale Computing