In the report, 2021 Strategic Roadmap for Edge Computing, Gartner analyst Bob Gill wrote that edge computing is entering the mainstream. Organisations are looking to extend the cloud to on-premises and take advantage of IoT and transformational digital business applications. Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) leaders must incorporate edge computing into their cloud computing plans as a foundation for new application types over the long term.
Gartner’s latest hype cycle on emerging technologies listed edge computing as nearing the peak of inflated expectations (see figure below).
While acknowledging not having seen the aforementioned hype cycle, Matthew Oostveen, CTO and VP APJ at Pure Storage acknowledged the convergence of exponential data growth, shrinking processes, and the rapid decline in the cost of flash storage all coming together at the edge, these are enabling transformations that “change the way we interact with the world around us.”
ReportLinker noted that industries like manufacturing and telecom lead the way in adoption of edge computing, especially concerning IoT. Process-intensive applications that involve AI, ML and IoT work with large data sets and have promoted the demand for localised compute, data storage and network resources.
Oostveen concurred with ReportLinker and added that we are connecting more devices and things to our corporate networks than ever before. “IoT alone, however, will not deliver the benefit of the technology. 5G is the other technology that will make these sensors come online and centralised. It is the intersection of these two technologies that will facilitate important and interesting data sources for organisations," he added.
Roadblock to edge computing
Adoption of edge computing starts with awareness. On this front, Oostveen noted there remain swathes of CIOs that have as yet to grasp the opportunities that lie ahead. But beyond the awareness side, there is the momentum that public cloud computing has created in recent years, most notable the COVID-19 pandemic.
The forced remote working has made the debate around the adoption of public cloud computing irrelevant. As organisations gravitate towards a centralised, albeit public, compute model, this very approach is counter to edge computing.
Oostveen is quick to point out that edge and public cloud are complete opposites.
“From a strategy perspective, CIOs need to think about how they harmonize the investments that they've made with the public cloud and within their data centre with these new upcoming data sources from the edge,” he opined.
He argued that there is a technology challenge. “It is focused on the unification of a data plane. So how does data flow seamlessly across these digital realms? And how do you control or command-control the data as well? It is something that we've been focused on at Pure Storage, from an engineering perspective, because we see this as being one of the big challenges,” said Oostveen.
The other challenge is security. (editor’s note: no surprise here).
Oostveen acknowledged that edge computing opens the possibility of difficulties around security in the future. “We are opening up multiple vectors of possible attacks. There is going to be an abundance of ways that the hacker community can penetrate our corporate networks, government networks, healthcare and education, etc,” he commented.
"As we start to embrace the edge and all its promises, we need to make careful consideration around how we protect the data and our organisations from these vectors of attack."
The skills question
The question of having access to adequate skills has long hounded functional leaders, including CIOs. The accelerating development of new technologies and new ways of working is naturally complicating the challenge of adoption.
Oostveen acknowledged that skills shortages exist whether it is to do with the cloud or the data centre. The shortage is even more pronounced with enterprises having to compete with start-ups and technology firms for the same talent pool.
Oostveen cautioned that the skills shortage is even more pronounced because of the tendency for higher levels of specialization that occur at the edge.
“The edge is an absolute cacophony of small, discrete and bespoke technologies – robotics, drones or medical imaging equipment for example. What we are describing here is the need to bring together IT and OT or IT-OT convergence, where operational technologies become a logical extension of information technologies,” he elaborated.
Oostveen suggested that CIOs would do well to look beyond their industry for inspiration in solving these challenges.
Click on the PodChat player above to listen to the full dialogue with Oostveen.
- As CTO what is your role at Pure Storage?
- Is this similar to CTOs at banks and other commercial industries?
- How has COVID-19 impacted the priorities of organisations and how has/should the CTO be responding to these changes in priorities?
- Edge computing has been with us since the 1990s. In Gartner’s hype cycle, it is approaching the peak of inflated expectation. Where do you see edge computing in terms of (a) awareness by CTOs at enterprises; (b) integration by CIOs into the IT strategy; and (c) how vendors are marketing the technology?
- In Asia, what developments are enabling organisations to embrace edge computing in 2021?
- Conversely, what remains key challenges delaying any such use?
- Skills questions
- If we look at different industries across Asia, who would you say are the cusp of harnessing the promise of edge computing? (IT-OT convergence)
- What makes them stand out?
- What can we learn from them?
- What can we look forward to with regards to edge computing in 2021?
- In this future of massive data, of convergence of edge and core, what will be the role of Pure Storage?