Edge Computing Challenges and Opportunities Revealed in New IDC Research

A newly commissioned IDC white paper, sponsored by Schneider Electric, highlights the challenges and opportunities that come with edge computing deployments. The white paper titled Succeeding at Digital First Connected Operations examines how edge computing and edge deployments are critical to enabling digital-first, connected operations. It also outlines strategies that IT professionals and decision-makers may use to future-proof their edge computing capabilities.

Edge computing is one of the major enablers of a digital-first paradigm. The most popular use cases for edge infrastructure are cybersecurity systems that monitor the operational network locally, as well as storing and processing operational data before sending it to the cloud.

Photo Jennifer Cooke, Research Director, Edge Strategies, IDC
“Resilient edge resources are the foundation for shifting to digital-first, connected operations,” said Jennifer Cooke, Research Director, Edge Strategies, IDC.

When asked why companies were investing in edge computing to handle these workloads, the top two reasons given were ‘improved cybersecurity’ (50%) and ‘systems robustness and reliability’ (44 per cent).

However, enterprises must overcome a number of obstacles to guarantee that their edge infrastructure, and hence their linked activities, are robust and reliable. Despite the edge’s potential, many businesses are concerned about connection and power outages. In fact, 32% of respondents said their edge installations have suffered ‘lack of connection or sluggish connectivity.’ In addition, 31% had had a ‘utility power outage or power surge lasting more than 60 seconds.’

“Resilient edge resources are the foundation for shifting to digital-first, connected operations,” said Jennifer Cooke, Research Director, Edge Strategies, IDC. “Organizations will become vulnerable if and when their technology fails. To future proof edge deployments, leaders must develop a strategy that addresses concerns, such as cybersecurity and connectivity issues, while ensuring access to the skills required to maintain resilient edge infrastructures.”

The white paper includes replies from over 1,000 IT and operations experts from various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, and others, as well as a series of in-depth interviews with industrial companies. Respondents came from all around the world, including the US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK, India, and Ireland. The companies’ sizes varied from 100 to over 1,000 people.

Edge Challenges to Overcome

When transitioning to digital-first connected operations, respondents mentioned the following challenges tom overcome:

  • Security – When integrating activities, physical and cybersecurity issues would be paramount. This issue will necessitate systems and procedures that are specifically designed for this new paradigm. However, once connected to the cloud, operational data may be used to fuel a variety of new and improved use cases. Such information may improve organizational cooperation and allow remote operations capabilities, resulting in labor efficiencies and guaranteeing that businesses have resilient remote operations capabilities.
  • Skills – To promote change, the staff must have the necessary capabilities to execute across technological settings and to develop internal alignment. Companies will need to interact with new ecosystem partners both inside and outside their business to achieve this aim.
  • Reliability – Reliability is becoming increasingly important as more local operational capabilities are directly supported remotely via the linked edge.

Future-proofing Edge Capabilities

To support their transition to digital-first connected operations, organizations may establish the following to future-proof their edge capabilities:

  • Resilient, secure, sustainable power and connectivity resources – Companies may limit the risk of downtime by adding robust power and connection resources early in the edge design phases.
  • Remote Monitoring and Management of edge resources at large scale – All businesses will face challenges in managing edge infrastructure at scale. It would be quite difficult, if not impossible, to have the appropriate abilities in the right location at the right moment. Make that your edge resources are capable of continuous remote monitoring and self-contained operation.
  • Trusted partners that can provide the necessary skills for the above edge resources – In instances or areas where it is not economically or physically viable to do it yourself, consider enlisting the help of trustworthy partners to deliver industry best practices and service. Often, trusted service partners may foresee issues before they happen. Look for partners that are likewise committed to sustainability, since 82% of respondents polled said that commitment to sustainability is a consideration for selecting edge solution providers.

“As organizations seek to create new or improved experiences for customers and to become more operationally efficient, improve safety and security, and become more sustainable, they are leaning more on digital technologies. The white paper examines the crucial role that edge computing and edge deployments play in enabling digital-first, connected operations,” said Chris Hanley, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations & Global Channels, leading edge commercial strategy, Schneider Electric. “It highlights strategies that IT professional and decision makers can adopt to future proof their edge computing capabilities to support remote, connected, secure, reliable, resilient, and sustainable operations.”