i am a long-time avid technologist. i began my tech career in the Apple world but moved to Enterprise Solutions later.
We are on the edge of edge!
In my last couple of articles, I dabbled the edges of change. I focused on the future of specific things, voice and printing. In particular, voice and printing within the government, commercial and personal markets. Many companies have announced an edge strategy. Edge computing is interesting, and I thought it is best if I defined edge computing first. So let's talk about what edge is today. First of all, I will apply the old Occam's razor to the definition of edge. The simplest explanation is always the easiest. The edge is simply the furthest reaches of the network that can house, manage, and deliver computing power in edge computing. What that means is if you look at cloud service providers and telecommunications providers, their networks are a lot bigger than most companies' and organizations' networks. So there are edges; it would be a bigger edge than most companies would happen. If you look at telecommunications providers and co-location providers, their ads would be massive compared to what most companies can do. Even the edge of the US federal government's network or any other government on planet Earth would not be as large as a big telecommunications network.
So then the concept of edge hundred. Now we take the definition of pushing compute and resources to the edge of the network. We need to ask who is hosting the solution. What is the destination today? In the data center? In the Cloud? The concept of edge computing ultimately is a game-changer. But the game-changer is an edge. Edge computing has been conceivable and possible for a long time. It has exploded recently because the networks can deliver an edge now. But the concept isn't new; it's just newly modified to be more easily delivered.
Going back to my often discussed enterprise resource triangle, we see where "edge" is a game-changer. The enterprise resource triangle being the device, the Landscape, and ultimately the destination. Each of those within the resource triangle impacts both on edge and what edge computing can deliver. To clarify, we lump applications into destinations. So how applications operate has a huge impact on what edge computing can deliver. The one constant change that edge computing will bring to the resources available today in the enterprise, government, and consumer markets is simply application evolution. Traditionally when we consider a destination cloud, data center, etc., the reality is we have to consider the capabilities of that destination. One of the initial arguments against cloud computing was that you couldn't run everything in the cloud. That argument is going to surface again for edge computing. Because the reality is you can't run every application on edge. Not from a cost basis or capability basis but simply from you don't need to. Your human resources department is not going to want to run your HR package on the edgier network. HR professionals tend to work in an office. Or if they work from home there connected via VPN and multiple layers of security to information. Because HR daily deals with PII. It's not likely that HR's can say build us an edge HR application
Applying the Enterprise Resource Triangle
That course one application and the HR portfolio would be a perfect fit for an edge application. That being inbound applications from external people for jobs internal to the company. Or internal to the government. Recruiting is a function that may operate best on edge. It is only one of the many business functions that will operate better on edge. But the reality of that move requires application modification. Today several cloud providers offer the concept of document scanning and conversion from inbound submissions. If a person submits a resume to a job board, that resume is digital and stays digital the whole time, but if they fax it in, the cloud service providers offer the ability to convert that into readable text. With edge computing, you can move that application closer to users. They get a much better response. The only issue for companies is rewriting the applications to make them edge computing aware.
The reality of edge computing in the future will be many applications rewritten. I suspect you can see a huge cottage industry explode. But I want to be clear that there are two types of edge applications that you should consider before you begin rewriting them. The two types are consolidated and distributed. Applying the enterprise resource triangle to the two types of edge applications, we begin to see how the triangle helps, just like the infamous resource triangle of many years ago, time, cost, and scope. You can increase the scope of a solution. You have to allow more time or incur more costs. With the Enterprise triangle, we encounter the same issue. We can limit the Landscape, but that means the device or the destination is unlimited.
The applications work for consolidated edge applications and distribute edge applications. The difference between consolidated edge applications and distributed edge applications is simply that a distributed edge computing solution will be in multiple edge locations. Consolidated will be in fewer locations overall. But in both cases, the enterprise resource triangle applies. You can limit one of the three the device, the Landscape, or the destination. For example, you might say for best performance, an application requires a 5G ultra wideband. It means the device is locked. The Landscape is limited, and the destination is open.
You are applying the two types of edge applications (there will be more in the future).
- Your HR department would probably want a consolidated application for inbound resumes
- The compliance team would want compliance applications consolidated
- But inbound field reporting systems would likely be distributed
- The sales team or field teams would prefer distributed applications
The ultimate impact of edge computing will be the full implementation of edge solutions. Using the Enterprise Application Triangle, we have a framework to build edge applications. Deciding to move an application to the edge, we can look at the impact of that. How do people (Landscape) connect to the application today? How will they connect when we have the application on edge? What device accesses the application today? Will that change once we move to the edge? What destination do we use today? Will that change when we deploy the application to the edge?
Moving applications to the edge will take planning. Once an application is on edge, the reality is you will be closer to a 5 9's application without the additional expense of redundant hardware.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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