What is the Edge?

How we work is rapidly changing. In a move that parallels the industrial revolution1, enterprises have become increasingly distributed. First, in order to locate closer to where business actually happens, enterprises have repositioned a large part of their workforce away from the main office and out to the remote “edge” locations.

Today, these remote sites are home to nearly half the world’s workforce2. But edge locations are home to more than just people. As the Internet of Things (IoT) ramps up, enterprises are placing all manner of devices and sensors at the edge.

Maybe it is oil sensors capturing extraction rates from wells in the Gulf of Mexico, or meters measuring water usage in a small town in Kansas. It might be sensors keeping an eye on HVAC equipment in retail locations around the globe, or taking high-resolution images of supplier parts on an auto assembly line, or even sensors monitoring the temperature of the oil that cooks french fries in a fast food chain. In fact, analysts estimate that the number of IoT devices in business will grow exponentially to over 30 billion devices by 20203.

All of these changes are creating a new focus for enterprise IT: The Edge. Whereas in years past the central office and the data center garnered most of IT’s attention; more recently, the cloud came with a promise of greater efficiency and simplicity, though never truly delivered on that promise for maintaining remote places of business. Going forward the relationship between the cloud and the edge, Cloud Edge, is where IT will focus.

How well IT does at the edge will drive how well the organization does overall.

Key for IT is enabling enterprise agility by making sure edge locations have the flexibility to change at a moment’s notice to react to changing business needs and environmental conditions. IT must build-in this agility and velocity at the infrastructure level, in how data is accessed, stored, protected and analyzed, and in how applications are delivered.

This e-book will discuss the specific things IT should consider when designing and deploying remote infrastructure not only to maximize business agility and velocity today, but also to have the flexibility, security and application performance to adapt to a rapidly changing future.

To begin, we’ll look at the three different types of edge …

1 World Economic Forum, The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond

2 Gallup, State of the American Workforce 2017

3 Gartner IoT Research

Real World Edge Locations
Remote Sales Office

Remote Sales Office Icon Remote Sales Office

Some of these edge locations are business sites, such as a small branch office in Singapore, a remote sales location in Frankfurt or even a temporary office supporting an audit team at a remote client location.

Sports Arena

Sports Arena Icon Sports Arena

In years past the central office and the data center garnered most of IT's attention, going forward the Edge is where IT will focus.

Retail Store

Retail Store Icon Retail Store

Edge locations can be a clothing manufacturer’s 228 retail stores across the world or a chain of coffee shops supplying secure in-store Wi-Fi and mobile services for employees and customers. It can also be a massive superstore or stand-alone warehouse managing and replenishing inventory and volumes to best serve consumer demand.

Manufacturing Plant

Manufacturing Plant Icon Manufacturing Plant

Other edge locations are more industrial in nature, such as remote manufacturing sites, processing plants, oil rigs or offices supporting remote engineering staff.

Oil Rig

Oil Rig Icon Oil Rig

Maybe its oil sensors capturing extraction rates from wells in the Gulf of Mexico or meters measuring water usage in a small town. The number of IoT divisions in business is estimated to grow to over 30 billion devices.

Government and Military Operations

Government and Military Operations Icon Government & Military Operations

It isn’t just commercial businesses. Government is also increasingly remote, with embassies, temporary disaster relief sites and military missions.

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