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Moving to the EDGE – from a distant dream to a near reality

Enterprises and small businesses across the country and globally, are on the track towards digitization and transformation to cloud. While most of the organizations had the thinking, the current pandemic expedited the exploration & execution of their ‘Move to the cloud’ agenda. Cloud spending globally rose 37% to $29 billion during the first quarter of 2020 as per a PWC report.

This trend has shown benefits that range from increased accessibility from anywhere anytime, enabled work from anywhere, scalability of service, maximize up time and robust disaster recovery, cost efficiencies brought in through minimal capital expenditure and economies of scale, and the list goes on. Plus we now have a sufficient set of talent pool to really make the adoption and the conversations around it feasible.

With content and workloads moving to the cloud, comes the question ‘What next?’ Can we further enhance the experience for the end customer or even the user/consumer? The answer is an emphatic YES!.  To this effect, an area being explored and taking center stage today is the EDGE. It is about moving the workloads from central node(s) in metros to hundred plus decentralized locations across, bringing in a bunch of improved experiences. Gartner has predicted that three fourths of enterprise data would be processed at the EDGE by 2025.

My write up is not to detail out the technology around it but to understand how we can play the experiential game. . Let us look at a few use cases and sectors that I believe would particularly go through a massive transformation with EDGE.

  • Review the viewing: Video and its usage are on the rise. India is the sixth largest video consumption market in the world and is all set to touch $4Bn by 2025. Now with so much of content what will matter to an end consumer will be the experience of watching it. That will be the single largest key to a successful business model. So how about this content being cached at the edge? Being closer to the end user would ensure  speed and quality of  service resulting in augmented viewership   This in my view is an absolute win-win for both the content provider who needs eye balls and the viewer who needs seamless experience.

 

  • Speak the language: It is the age of localized content to meet the regional tastes of users. Today as we host content in the cloud we know it is being accessed from few central nodes. The future is about creating the right content distribution models and taking  it down to every state or city, from where it can be accessed. . This will ensure customized offerings, reduced cost to serve and ease of manageability. . Edge hence will play a crucial role in making this a reality for the providers.

 

  • Your local shop: With remote working becoming not-so-remote in 2020, how would it be to have some of the common applications and tools that an employee uses, like ERP and HRMS, made accessible from his or her locality? The load and dependency on a central server reduces and the employee accesses with more ease and speed. A CIO’s dream possibly. Industries like banking & manufacturing with multiple branches, ATM’s, office locations & factories across the country, need applications and workloads 24*7 on a real time basis. .. Many a times we have faced challenges in the branches/ATM’s accessibility of central data bases and information leading to delays across the supply chain. All of this could be resolved through data storage and local shops at the EDGE.

 

  • Enhancing connected world – IoT as we know has been instrumental in interconnecting the world and devices across thus helping us from basic tracking to analytics across in our business and everyday life. The number of connected devices globally is expected to be almost 42 B by 2025 generating 79.4 Zettabytes of data as per a study done by IDC. Imagine the benefits across the IoT ecosystem if and when the applications and use cases move to EDGE. Firstly it would improve the end customer experience of getting statistics real time. Secondly for the data generated the amount of bandwidth needed is humongous. By having processing and storage at the edge there will definitely be benefits there.

 

  • Bringing Intelligence to the EDGE – In the near future we would see how AI and ML powered applications will also move to the edge. As we have observed, the world is moving towards exploration of artificial intelligence in their business. And the benefits of EDGE for powering AI based application in my view are currently theoretical but keeping in mind that for an efficient AI the need is for a high performance networking. It is data heavy and high amount of data transfer happens. Plus it needs almost real time decision making. To me these two parameters itself becomes a key reason why EDGE based AI is the way to go and the reason for AI adopting EDGE.

 

We would also see the benefits 5G would bring to EDGE and the power of mobile edge compute driving a lot of workload and applications which would benefit from being at the edge.

Edgification, as I call it, will be driven by the ecosystem that gets created with cloud providers, application providers, connectivity providers and system integrators to shape up the future of digitization. Whether we adopt it or not, EDGE is definitely future. It is bound to shape up the next generation of cloud computing and create a template for unimaginable level of experience and benefits to one and all. So start thinking and start planning. EDGE is almost a reality than ever.

 By – Raakesh Menon, Vice President – Cloud Business & Partnerships, Vodafone Idea Ltd.

 (This is my personal post and should not be regarded as the views of the organization I currently work for or any of my earlier organizations. I will be glad to hear your esteemed views)

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