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The Edge: Our next technological and social opportunity for value creation


Over the last decade, Cloud computing has dominated IT discussions, inspiring a vision of all compute and storage resources in one place, with users able to easily connect and consume “as-they-go.”

 Initially, market watchers predicted that the world would consume its IT from a few large Public Cloud factories. Over the past five years, however, a more balanced concept has emerged, with organizations choosing to implement Cloud computing on premises in their own data centers. This has led to a Hybrid model, including on and off-premises Cloud solutions tied to workload requirements, as well as the devices and sensors found across an organization’s network and digitized products – aka the Edge.

 The Cloud movement has accelerated new areas for research. By enabling easier access to compute and storage, Cloud technologies have already generated a staggering quantity of data and will continue to do so moving forward – at an exponential scale . Now, everyone and everything is becoming a sensor, creating and sending information to – and from – any location. The Internet has become the Internet of Things, opening new perspectives on community and connections, such as autonomous vehicles and Industry 4.0, with its digitally-driven factories and production lines capable of adapting to live market conditions and customer feedback sent by the products themselves.

 Looking at these two examples, it’s clear that the initial idea of a global, centralized Cloud could never sufficiently address the massive sprawl of data creation, nor the analysis, management and communications processes tied to it. Today, the Edge matters more than ever. Peter Levine from Andreessen Horowitz highlights this shift in his talk about “The end of Cloud Computing,” where he explains that new solutions should be defined to fulfill what the Cloud has let us imagine, yet not achieve…at least by itself. Data processing at the Edge and Artificial Intelligence, for instance, are two areas where higher investments are needed to ensure Cloud computing remains viable. Cloud technologies must enable learning and insights found at the Edge, rather than providing only compute power – a function that will increasingly be shared between the Cloud and the Edge.

 Similarly, a 2016 European Union (EU) Commission report, “Realising the European Open Science Cloud 2016,” points out that the majority of challenges to achieving the project would be social, not technical. Even the major technical challenge cited in the paper revolves around the complexity of data and analytics procedures across disciplines, rather than the size and the compute of the data per se. This signals a need for a new class of analytics related to the different disciplines and verticals that will be addressed. It also indicates an alarming shortage of data experts, not only in national research organizations, but where the value is created – at the Edge.

 The same issues can be found around the world. The more we endeavor to power it, the more we need to have capable resources near the Edge to give a sense to what we are computing. The Edge must be evaluated and integrated from an ecosystem perspective, including the people using the devices and products in question, not just a computing one. We need to think locally, while leveraging diversity to create value for the customers, citizens, and companies all along the IT supply chain. We need to do this with an emphasis on trust and security, with strong involvement from all participants – from education and research to software and hardware vendors, without forgetting Systems Integrators, Distributors, Services Providers and Solution Providers, who enable the best choice of technologies.

 Initiatives that encourage and feed value creation at the Edge will drive progress, both from a technological and go-to-market sense. Beyond collecting data from hundreds of satellites every day, it may be worth enabling enterprises open access to this information to create a new digital value out of it – including everything from creating new job opportunities to helping young people make the right choices when deciding their university curriculum. The Edge value movement is on!Smaller_GettyImages-522442527_800_0_72_srgb.jpg

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About the Author


Xavier Poisson advocates economic growth through community development and innovation. In his role as Vice President for Worldwide Indirect Digital Services, he leads global expansion of an ecosystem that federates all types of channel partners and creates new opportunities for partners and customers alike to accelerate their business results. Known as Cloud28+, the community unites Service Providers, ISVs, VARs, distributors, public sector organizations, and technology vendors to offer a cloud services catalog for customers who require specific business and workload solutions.