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The Future of Edge Computing
Edge computing moves computing resources and data processing applications out of the centralized data center or cloud, deploying them at the edges of the network and allowing companies to use their edge data in real-time. An explosion in edge data generated by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, automated operational technology (OT), and other remote devices has created a high demand for edge computing solutions. A recent report from Grand View Research valued the edge computing market size at $16.45 billion in 2023 and predicted it to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.9% by 2030.

The current edge computing landscape comprises solutions focused on individual use cases,  lacking interoperability and central orchestration. The future of edge computing, as described by leading analysts at Gartner, depends on unifying the edge computing ecosystem with comprehensive strategies and centralized, vendor-neutral management and orchestration. This future relies on edge-native applications that integrate seamlessly with upstream resources, remote management, and orchestration while still being able to operate independently.

Where is edge computing now?

Many organizations already use edge computing technology to solve individual problems or handle specific workloads. For example, a manufacturing department may deploy an edge computing application to analyze log data and provide predictive maintenance recommendations for a single type of machine or assembly line. A single company may have a dozen or more disjointed edge computing solutions in use throughout the network, creating visibility and management headaches for IT teams. This piecemeal approach to edge computing results in what Gartner calls “edge sprawl”: many disparate solutions deployed without centralized control, security, or visibility. Edge sprawl increases management complexity and risk while decreasing operational efficiency, creating significant roadblocks for digital transformation initiatives.

Additionally, many organizations misunderstand edge computing by thinking it’s just about moving computing resources as close to the edge as possible to collect data. In reality, the true potential of the edge involves using edge data in real-time, gaining “cloud-in-a-box” capability that works in concert with the network’s upstream resources.

Anticipating the future of edge computing

At Gartner’s 2023 IT Infrastructure Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference, edge technology experts predicted that, by 2025, enterprises will create and process more than 50% of their data outside the centralized data center or cloud. Surging edge data volume will accelerate the challenges caused by a lack of strategy or orchestration.

Gartner’s 6 Edge Computing Challenges

Lack of extensibility

Many purpose-built edge computing solutions can’t adapt as use cases change or expand as the business scales, limiting agility and preventing efficient growth.

Inability to extract value from edge data

Much of the valuable data generated by edge sensors and devices gets left on the table, so to speak, because companies lack the resources needed to run all their data analytics and AI apps at the edge and are stuck simply collecting data rather than being able to do much with it.

Data storage constraints

Edge computing deployments are often smaller and have more data storage constraints than large data centers and cloud deployments, but quickly distinguishing between valuable data and destroyable junk is difficult with edge resources.

Knowledge debt from edge-native apps

Edge-native applications are designed for edge computing architectures from the ground up. Edge containers are similar to cloud-native apps, but clustering and cluster management work much differently, creating what’s known as “knowledge debt” and straining IT teams.

Lack of security controls, policies, & visibility

Edge deployments often lack many of the security features used in data centers, and sometimes other departments install edge computing solutions without onboarding them with IT for the application of security policies and monitoring agents, adding risk and increasing the attack surface.

Inability to remotely orchestrate, monitor, & troubleshoot

When equipment failures, configuration errors, or breaches take down edge networks, remote teams are often cut-off and unable to troubleshoot or recover without traveling on-site or paying for managed services, increasing the duration and cost of the outage. Current edge solutions are novel and don’t connect to or integrate with the full networking stack.

At the Gartner conference, analyst Thomas Bittman gave multiple presentations echoing his advice from the Building an Edge Computing Strategy report published earlier in the year. In preparing for the future of edge computing, Bittman urges companies to proactively develop a comprehensive edge computing strategy encompassing all potential use cases and addressing the challenges described above. His recommendations include:

  • Enabling extensibility by utilizing vendor-neutral platforms that allow for expansion and integration, which supports growth and agility at the edge.
  • Looking for opportunities to deploy artificial intelligence, data analytics, and machine learning alongside edge computing units, for example, with system-on-chip technology or all-in-one edge networking and computing devices.
  • Anticipating data storage and governance challenges at the edge by defining clear policies and deploying AI/ML data management solutions that dynamically determine data value.
  • Reducing knowledge debt by utilizing vendor-neutral platforms that support familiar container and cluster management technologies (like Docker and Kubernetes).
  • Securing the edge with a multi-layered defense, including hardware security, frequent patches, zero-trust policies, strong authentication, network micro-segmentation, and comprehensive security monitoring.
  • Centralizing edge management and orchestration (EMO) with a vendor-neutral platform that unifies control, supports environmental monitoring, and uses out-of-band (OOB) management while interoperating with automated edge management workflows (such as zero-touch provisioning and infrastructure configuration management).

Bittman’s recommended edge computing strategy uses the central EMO as a hub for all the technologies, processes, and workflows involved in operating and supporting the edge. This strategy will prepare companies for the future of edge computing and support efficient, agile growth and innovation.

Enter the future of edge computing with Nodegrid

Nodegrid is a vendor-neutral edge management and orchestration platform from ZPE Systems. Nodegrid easily interoperates with your choice of edge solutions and can directly run third-party AI, ML, data analytics, and data governance applications to help you extract more value from your edge data. The open, Linux-based Nodegrid OS can also host Docker containers and edge-native applications to reduce hardware overhead and knowledge debt.

Nodegrid devices protect your edge management interfaces with hardware security features like TPM and geofencing, support for strong authentication like 2FA, and integrations with leading zero-trust providers like Okta and PING. The Nodegrid OS and ZPE Cloud are Synopsys-validated to address security at every stage of the SDLC. Plus, you can run third-party security solutions for SASE, next-generation firewalls, and more.

Nodegrid edge networking solutions use out-of-band technology to give teams 24/7 remote visibility, management, and troubleshooting access to edge deployments. It freely interoperates with third-party solutions for infrastructure automation, monitoring, and recovery to support network resilience and operational efficiency. Nodegrid is like a cloud-in-a-box solution, incorporating edge computing and the full networking stack. Nodegrid’s edge management and orchestration platform provides single-pane-of-glass visibility, control, and resilience while supporting future edge growth.

Use Nodegrid for your Gartner-approved edge computing strategy

The Nodegrid EMO platform helps you anticipate the future of edge computing with vendor-neutral, single-pane-of-glass visibility and control. Watch a free Nodegrid demo to learn more.

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