Edge computing potential is tangible, but companies still see hurdles |

Aruba Study: 72 percent of IT executives worldwide are actively using edge computing technologies to open new business opportunities. […]

Increases in efficiency and new (work) experiences rank high. (c) Pixabay

Increases in efficiency and new (work) experiences rank high. (c) Pixabay

The ability of companies to generate actionable information from data increasingly depends on their ability to capture, process, store and analyze this at the edge of the network. This is confirmed by a new study report from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

Many networks are becoming increasingly congested with the huge amounts of data generated by end-user and IoT devices. As a result, many IT executives are realizing that analyzing real-time data closer to where it is generated is more efficient and provides more insight, which in turn leads to better business results. According to a global study of 2,400 IT decision makers, 72 percent of IT executives worldwide (and in Germany) are already actively using edge computing technology to open up new business opportunities, and another 16 percent plan to do so in the next year. The urgency (82 percent) to implement integrated systems for processing data at the network edge is also increasingly recognized.

In addition, the degree of maturity of the implemented edge technologies of a company correlates closely with the ability to derive relevant insights from the collected data. 78 percent of IT decision-makers who use edge technologies productively stated that they are able to use this data to optimize business decisions or processes. In comparison, only 42 percent of IT decision-makers are still in the pilot phase and 31 percent are planning pilot projects for the coming year.

“This research suggests that the vast majority of IT executives are already studying or preparing for edge technologies,” said Partha Narasimhan, CTO and HPE Senior Fellow, HPE Aruba. “Given the existing cloud solutions in companies, the development of an edge strategy is absolutely necessary, as the number of connected devices is increasing and it is not efficient to transfer large amounts of data to a cloud or data center environment; especially in view of the ongoing digital transformation in order to achieve business goals and meet customer requirements. ”

The results of the survey are part of a report entitled “At the Edge: Your Journey in the Data Age,” which examines how computing is moving away from the cloud towards the edge computing age. In addition, the reactions of IT decision-makers to this trend, the opportunities that the age of edge computing offers for a number of important industries and the crucial role of networking in this transformation are examined.

Companies are swimming in data, but recognize edge computing as a solution

According to the study, the advantages of edge technologies are becoming increasingly clear as IT decision-makers grapple with the growing amounts of data in their networks and recognize the cost advantages and low latencies of edge computing technologies when they store and process data.

  • 33 percent of IT decision-makers worldwide say that “there is too much data that our systems cannot process” and 28 percent stated that “we cannot process the data quickly enough to implement results in time”.
  • Almost a quarter also pointed to budget problems (23 percent), a lack of expertise (23 percent), and an inability to collect data from many different sources (21 percent).
  • More than half (55 percent) of IT decision-makers worldwide see the “much faster data processing” in their networks as a result of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

Increases in efficiency and new (work) experiences rank high
IT decision-makers name a multitude of advantages that result from collecting and analyzing data at the edge of the network: from operational efficiency to the possibility of generating new products, services and sources of income.

  • 53 percent of the IT decision-makers named the “improvement of operational efficiency and costs” as one of the main advantages of collecting and processing device data, 47 percent named the “increase in employee productivity”.
  • At the same time, 44 percent of those surveyed believed that the data provided them with more precise information about the customer, 40 percent cited the possibility of “establishing new differentiated products, services, sources of income and business models” and 40 percent highlighted the potential for personalized delivery of services.
  • IT decision makers are increasingly focusing on edge computing technologies to improve security, visibility and the customer experience. Broken down by sector, the most popular use cases were tracking and monitoring individual items in the retail supply chain (51 percent), using facial recognition technology in hotels and restaurants (49 percent), and improving the user experience of healthcare providers with always-on tools and applications (49 percent).

Concerns about costs, expertise and IT security

While IT decision makers are showing a growing interest in processing and analyzing data at the network edge, they are also concerned about various hurdles.

  • 32 percent of IT decision-makers named a lack of specialist knowledge, qualifications or a lack of understanding of cutting-edge technologies as the greatest concerns. Notably, the overwhelming majority (92 percent) feel that they lack at least some of the skills they need to help their organization extract information from data. These are 98 percent and 99 percent of IT decision-makers in the government sector and in the hotel and restaurant industry.
  • AI and machine learning know-how (43 percent), analytical skills (41 percent) and technical competencies (37 percent) are mentioned first as areas in which companies lack specialist knowledge.
  • Overall, the estimated effects of edge technologies on IT security generated mixed feelings. While 57 percent of IT executives said that using IoT or user devices at the edge of the network made or would make their companies more vulnerable, 47 percent named improved security as one of the greatest benefits of data collection.

From the cloud to edge computing

Since the success of a company increasingly depends on data, it is of crucial importance that it is reliably and securely analyzed and processed close to where it is created. Traditional network architectures and operating processes that were developed to support the cloud and mobility age must adapt to these new requirements.

As companies begin to leverage the power of their data and build edge infrastructure, there are a few key concepts to be aware of for a successful implementation:

  • Unify – The network edge encompasses all network domains, including wired, wireless and SD-WAN solutions; as well as all locations, including corporate, branch, data center, and remote worker environments. IT teams should only consider solutions that can manage all domains and locations from a single “cloud native” application and centralize and correlate all cross-domain events and operations.
  • Automate – Network availability and performance are critical on the edge. IT teams should only consider solutions that provide reliable, highly accurate, and specific AI-powered insights and that can be automated so that problems can be resolved before they affect operations or employees.
  • Protect – The IoT devices that generate the data that fuel the new business opportunities also present new IT security challenges. IT teams should consider solutions that use AI to detect, classify, and continuously monitor these devices, and seamlessly interact with access control solutions to automatically set centralized policies for the devices that keep them secure and only with predetermined network sources communicate.

“Extracting information from data at the edge of the network is an opportunity for companies to revolutionize the way they handle data and unlock its value as a business asset,” concludes Narasimhan. “Companies that can process, store and analyze data at the edge of the network will initially be able to use this data to optimize their existing business model and develop innovative products and services over time, and gain experience that will not only expand their offerings for customers and employees, but will also change. ”

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