How should CIOs adjust to the edge computing trend?

How should CIOs adjust to the edge computing trend?
Edge computing carries various advantages for end users in different verticals from manufacturing to retail, and chief information officers in these fields must catch up with this trend.
 
That was the point raised by ABI Research in a recent whitepaper titled “What CIOs Need to Know About Hyperconvergence at the Edge.”
 
According to the paper, the practice of converging differnet types of data has traditionally been done at the backend. “Enterprises started implementing hyperconverged infrastructure in data centers half a decade ago. Hyperconverged infrastructure combines software-defined storage (SDS) and networking with virtualized computing over a hypervisor all on commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. SDS empowers end users to manage data independent of underlying hardware,” it said. “A hypervisor or virtual machine monitor (VMM) creates and runs virtual machines (VMs). VMs execute multiple operating systems on the same physical server or machine. Hypervisor software presents a single administrative platform to run the VMs. Therefore, hyperconverged infrastructure presents a single administrative platform to manage data from multiple VMs on COTS servers.”
 
Yet, with the rise of more sophisticated sensors and the data they generate, the trend has become such that this convergence of data is increasingly carried out on the edge, and the trend is seen in more and more vertical markets other than manufacturing. “Hyperconvergence at the edge essentially accomplishes (managing data from multiple sources) on an edge gateway or server instead of back in the data center,” the paper said. “Hyperconvergence at the edge helps solve operational business problems in manufacturing, transportation, and retail.”
 

Recommendations for CIOs

 
According to the whitepaper, this convergence on the edge has become inevitable as operators need real-time insights and analysis of data generated by sensors to find out faults or abnormalities, so they can deal with them immediately.
 
“As end users of Industrial Internet of Things solutions in various verticals collect more data and more types of data in changing environments, they need more edge computing and edge analytics. With hyperconverged edge gateways, the end users can capture and process data from multiple, previously siloed applications in multiple protocols; learn from live streams of data coming off devices; reduce bandwidth; and lower response time,” it said. “Consolidated computing in the cloud can find more long-term trends and coordinate operations across departments and geographies, but edge computing helps solve problems at the source, in near real time.”
 
In the midst of this trend, the CIO of an end user entity in manufacturing, transportation and retail has a more important role to play, and the whitepaper gave certain strategic recommendations that are summarized as follows.
 
  • Solve problems at the edge with partners that understand IT, OT, gateways, and VMs. According to the paper, implementing hyperconverged architecture at the edge requires working with partners that understand both the IT and OT worlds. “Companies that know the OT side include Eurotech, Siemens, and PTC’s Kepware. Companies that specialize in IT include VMware, Dell EMC, HPE, FogHorn Systems and SAP.” It said.
 
  • Create cross-functional task forces internally. “Likewise, your own IT team needs to understand your own company’s OT problems. IIoT solutions take joint project planning across IT and OT to succeed,” the paper pointed out.
 
  • Stay as open as possible to new solutions. By integrating VMs under a hypervisor at the edge, CIOs do not limit themselves to any single type of solution in their gateways but instead can integrate almost any new type of platform, edge analytics, and processing, the paper said.
 
The paper argues that convergence at the edge does not negate the importance of computing in the cloud. “No matter how many problems edge analytics solve, CIOs still need to manage the overall operation from the cloud. Cloud computing provides the only true solutions for finding long-term trends and strategic planning and management,” it said.


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