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The good, the bad and the ugly – exploring the implications of the Intelligent Edge, Part 1

JordanWhitmarsh

 

Have thoughts or comments on the article below? Let me know: @JordanTechPro

Last week, I shared some of the business benefits of the intelligent edge, and why the opportunity to embrace those benefits is NOW. The intelligent edge helps organizations improve what they do today and increases opportunities to innovate—building new experiences for customers and employees, and driving new revenue streams for the business.

But like most good things in life, there could be some challenges to face before you earn the benefits. In this two-part post I’d like to discuss and explore the potential challenges enterprises may face when embracing a digital transformation with the intelligent edge.

Transformational change: the good, the bad, the ugly.

So what do you need to think about to realize the full potential of the intelligent edge? The challenges below represent some of the key opportunities for your organization to catalyze business model, operations model or infrastructure model change.

  • Scale
  • Connectivity
  • Security
  • Context

To add yet more complexity, these elements are all inter-related. Each have implications for and implications on each other. For example, scale impacts your attack surface and the volume of data that you must analyze to derive meaningful context. Connectivity must be pervasive but secured in new ways, for example - taking context as a source for insight into protection.

The ecosystem is becoming more open, more diverse and more inclusive. Choosing a technology partner that can support you across this complex landscape is essential.

Scale: Preparing for billions

We’re on a path to billions, we’re seeing it in everyday examples with our customers across industries- across the world - and enterprises need to get ready:  DreamWorks Animation creates ½ a billion digital files with every movie; YP.com handles 3.5 billion clicks from 100 million consumers; Dropbox has ½ a billion users (March 2016).

iot-factory.jpg

 This scale is being fueled by a new breed of apps, things and the data that connects them. Apps are fast becoming the most common way enterprises to interact with customers, employees, partners and suppliers. They are shaping the workplace and brand. These apps are now created anywhere and live everywhere, and they move and change with a speed we’ve never seen before, with an unprecedented scale. Add to this the explosive growth in data– across human, business, machine and sensor data,  thanks to the billions of devices connected across networks. That data needs to be collected, stored, analyzed for patterns, for context and insight – to turn insight into action.

This scale is forcing new architectures and new approaches. For example, apps are now:

  • Composed of microservices
  • They evolve quickly & continuously
  • They take many experimental steps or iterations
  • Their scaling requirements are often unpredictable

To the last point, if your app goes viral overnight, how do you handle it?

This need to scale is also breeding a new kind of data:

  • It has new volume, velocity and variety
  • It needs to be analysed & stored in many places, often time or latency sensitive
  • It is enabling a shift from real-time decision making to predictive action
  • And of course, it is at constantly evolving risk

Now, on to discussing the second challenge to transformation….

Connecting the world

However much data you collect from a single source, connecting it to other sources is the basis of driving new value. Pervasive connectivity is key. The GM and Founder of Aruba told the attendees at our recent Atmosphere conference that he built Aruba because he had a fundamental belief that in the future all things would need to be connected and that couldn’t happen through legacy, wired networks – they simply couldn’t scale. There have been plenty of naysayers along the way.  They said that wireless could not deliver the performance, or the availability or the security, but Aruba has successfully innovated around each of these areas to prove those naysayers wrong – putting HPE at the forefront of the intelligent edge revolution. Wifi is important, but not the only consideration. We need to consider cellular, Bluetooth, tailored RF protocols and a host of other connectivity mechanisms.

The intelligent edge revolution is underpinned by the real-time delivery of data, making advanced networking technology a must. Key to enabling the edge is “ubiquitous connectivity”, not only in terms of coverage, but in bringing unconnected devices to a network. There are a lot of places we haven’t covered yet, and a lot of things we’ve not connected yet. Google, Facebook and Microsoft are spending billions laying transpacific cable bringing high speed internet to the world, further enabling new connectivity and new opportunity.

The technology industry’s role is based around some key needs: the sensors themselves, so that the physical world, the place, can be connected; the ability to create value from the data generated, systems to turn that value into action or control; and the previously mentioned need for ubiquitous connectivity. But bringing industry to the Internet of Things is not without its challenges. For example, with sensors and actuators we can imbue so many “dumb” things with intelligence. We have a lot of industrial things, we have a lot of municipal things, we have a lot of workplace things: how do we connect them? How do we make them more useful? How can we have them drive new value?

Underpinning this is a wide range of connectivity interfaces in use across a diverse set of use cases. How can we connect all the different standards together with one mesh? Device gateways and edge compute play a critical role here.

And network technology itself is evolving to meet the different needs of various applications. For some, latency is a critical issue – industrial control, for example – while in others such as smart meters, low-power is the key.

What we know today:

  • Wireless broadband will get much faster
  • Devices will get cheaper, smaller and better
  • Data access will win over ownership
  • Roaming will eventually die

Whatever the future for your intelligent edge is, we know that it does not include plugging in a cable or searching for wifi.

In next week’s blog post, we’ll discuss the last two challenges of transformational change: embracing a radically new ecosystem and building context (the ability to aggregate data points into actionable intelligence). Don’t forget to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below, or tweet me at @JordanTechPro. You can also meet me in person, at HPE Discover in Las Vegas in June. Register now to see the latest and greatest in enterprise technology.

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About the Author

JordanWhitmarsh

Jordan Whitmarsh is a global solution strategist and digital advisor for HPE Pointnext. He focuses on helping customers accelerate their digital transformation journey in an edge centric, data driven and cloud enabled world.