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Defining the Intelligent Edge

Organizations are creating smarter buildings, cities, work spaces, retail experiences, factory floors, all using edge computing.

Driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) this Intelligent Edge is the new forefront of innovation, whether it’s a manufacturing floor, a building, a campus, a city, your house, a crop field, a wind farm, a power plant, an oil rig, a telecommunications outpost, a sports arena, a battlefield, in your car, in the sky, or under the sea. With smart, connected, computational, and controlling technology at its heart, the Intelligent Edge provides analytics capabilities that were formerly confined to on-premises or cloud data centers.

That’s ‘edge’ with three Cs

The Intelligent Edge is key to driving business insights for digital transformation. And it’s ripe with three core profitable opportunities for you – the three Cs:

  • Connect: Facilitating exchanges that promote new sources and volumes of data.
  • Compute: Reveal deep insights concerning connected devices, and their surrounding environment.
  • Control: Use insights to activate and orchestrate equipment at the edge.

In addition to the three core opportunities are underpinned by seven specific benefits, which businesses can realise by computing at the Edge.

Although all three Cs (connect, compute, and control) contribute to edge intelligence, the special importance of compute improvements lies in the opportunity to release immediate insights from Edge data at relatively low cost. Edge compute can be improved by shifting enterprise-class compute, storage, and management from the data center out to the edge.

Organizations can leverage Edge computing to: 

  • Minimize latency. In situations where real-time compute control is essential –such as a robot arm in a shop process that requires precision adjustments and calibration to maintain product quality without stalling the production line.
  • Reduce bandwidth. By avoiding the need to send big data back and forth from things to the cloud.
  • Lower cost. Even if bandwidth is available, it can be costly. Efficiency is an important element of any corporate IoT strategy.
  • Reduce threats. Process data securely at the Edge, rather than exposing it to attacks or breaches in transit across the campus, state, country, or ocean.
  • Avoid duplication. Eliminate costly and unnecessary duplication in memory, storage, networking equipment, that results from collecting data and sending it to the cloud.
  • Improve reliability. Eliminate the risk of data corruption from the retries, drops, and missed connections that plague edge-to-data-center communications.
  • Maintain compliance. Simplify regulatory compliance by avoiding the legislative minefield that surrounds data between jurisdictions or across borders.

It’s important to quantify the likely ROI of a specific edge deployment. A formal IoT proof-of-concept project will highlight the opportunity and reveal any security issues around protecting the network and data.

Start by identifying your focused business, engineering, or scientific benefit to be derived from the project. Analyze or compute the data from newly connected entities, and assess whether the expected insights materialize when shifting inventory, adding personnel, or re-pricing products. If the results look promising, scale up slowly with more connected things and additional data capture, continuously reassessing value.

Successful, end-to-end IoT solutions integrate OT sensors, actuation, data and control systems, and acquisition systems with IT compute, storage, and networking. So, OT and IT integration and convergence are essential for success.

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