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Stratus Technologies 2018 Predictions: Edge Computing in 2018 - The "Edge" You Need for Success

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Jason Andersen, vice president, business line management, Stratus Technologies

Edge Computing in 2018: the "edge" you need for success

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the shift towards edge computing is becoming effectively mandatory in order to deal with the large amount of data now flowing in due to all of the connected "things." Given this, we're beginning to see companies realize the great business need and value there is in pushing computing power to the edge - from efficiency to scalability to cost reduction.

This newer, evolving mindset around edge computing has recently seen a lot of attention and is a trend that will only continue as we enter 2018. Below are my thoughts on the main things that will be shaping edge computing in the year to come.

The barriers to adoption of edge computing will be lowered in 2018 - but some obstacles will remain

There is going to be some major headway in terms of success around edge computing as we enter 2018. Forward thinking companies have already begun to do interesting projects at the edge, and others are finally starting to take notice.

Edge computing is moving from an emerging topic, to a mainstream trend. We're seeing increased coverage from industry analysts and media, and vendors are starting to make big investments in the area. There is more general awareness as new products are being designed for this area specifically and are seeing some real points of success. In turn, this is creating a positive cycle where people are becoming more confident in their business cases, which is pushing them to try these projects and will play a large part in driving down the barriers to adoption.

However, there are some obstacles. We're still in the early stages of edge computing, and therefore are missing things like best practices. In general, people will need to figure out the right way to implement these solutions and it will tie back to the willingness to experiment and adopt new things. Because there are not a lot of templates in place now, customers and vendors will need to go through a trial and error phase to figure out these strategies on their own over the next couple of years.

The single biggest investment industrial companies should be planning this year to advance their edge capabilities is a pilot program

If you haven't done an edge focused pilot program yet - do one. That should be the single biggest investment companies make this year for edge computing. But you need to make sure you give it the time it needs to be successful - this is a big shift, so it needs attention.

I like to think of the shift similarly to how the cloud was adopted in its early days. People had the mindset of "let's build an application in the cloud and see how successful it is," rather than going all in and changing their entire development model. They conducted pilot tests first, and that's what edge computing will require as well.

If your company already has conducted a pilot, the next step in terms of investment would be to determine how to implement learnings from the pilot on a wider scale and focus on building the right organization to support them. Taking the pilot more broadly will not only have a technological impact, but an organizational one too. You really need to think it through and design it in such a way to make sure the organization and technology mesh together well.

Edge computing will not only become a priority in the eyes of the C-suite - but also a part of their global risk management strategy

From the C-Suite perspective, edge computing is something that will help make business better and differentiate the company. Ergo, its importance will be elevated in a massive way. Now that they start to realize that the production data is important - in terms of being able make optimizations or uncover new biz opportunities - the data and analytics being produced at the edge moves from a diagnostic IT maintenance tactic to something that is part of a global risk management strategy.

A great comparison here is how sales and marketing leadership have changed their way of operating due to Salesforce. The platform has become such a powerful tool for lead generation and lead management, and has helped enable people to become more focused and directed in terms of go-to-market execution. I look at the data coming out of the edge and going into future platforms and infrastructure as something that will have the same impact - but on the production side of things, rather than the go-to-market side.  

Edge computing won't make any legacy technologies obsolete this year, but it may change the way they are used

I don't think any technologies will become obsolete in 2018. However, in some instances, the architecture of the technology will need to be adapted to fit into this new world. A good example is looking at legacy systems to see how they can be architected to take advantage of the edge and the cloud. There might be certain technologies that we can optimize or upgrade into a new configuration. It doesn't mean you don't need these legacy systems or technologies anymore, but that they just need to be re-architected to save money or realize a new business benefit.

These opportunities will probably be found once a new emerging role I call "Hybrid OT" appears. This role is one I see as having traditional OT responsibilities, but also far more technical expertise and background in digital technologies. This new type of worker will help in unlocking the data collected over the years from older technologies and figure out how to make it actionable for the business.

People need to think big when it comes to edge computing

Overall, I'm thrilled to see that edge computing is gaining recognition and that people are realizing they need to adopt it in order to remain competitive and successful. This is a huge deal.

The challenge we face now, however, is that people are not thinking big enough about the problems they are trying to solve. For example, when looking at the IoT and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) most are only thinking about the edge in very tactical ways, like predictive maintenance for example. While I definitely see this as a game-improver, I don't necessarily see it as a game-changer. We need to start thinking about edge applications differently and more strategically, focusing on things like the supply chain or how to deliver more products faster or how to expand geographical footprints. As people start to think about edge computing more broadly versus tactically, we'll start to see a lot of new business benefits come to the forefront.


About the Author

Jason Andersen 

Jason Andersen is Vice President of Business Line Management and is responsible for setting the product roadmaps and go to market strategies for Stratus Products and Services. Jason has a deep understanding of both on-premise and cloud based infrastructure for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and has been responsible for the successful market delivery of products and services for almost 20 years. Prior to joining Stratus in 2013, Jason was Director of Product Line Management at Red Hat. In this role, he was responsible for the go to market strategy, product introductions and launches, as well as product marketing for the JBoss Application Products. Jason also previously held Product Management positions at Red Hat and IBM Software Group.

Published Wednesday, November 15, 2017 7:20 AM by David Marshall
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