Living on the Edge – The next frontier…

The Internet of Things is not a concept; it is a network, the true technology-enabled network of all networks. Edewede Oriwoh

The cloud is about how you do computing, not where you do computing. – Paul Maritz

The internet will disappear. There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission, you are interacting with the things going on in the room. – Eric Schmidt

One of the most interesting parts of working in the IT space is the rate of change. Its frenetic, chaotic and at times overwhelming but at the same time so many professionals and organizations embrace the rate of the change as a catalyst for opportunity and growth.

When I look around today, 2018, we can quickly look back at just a few key transformations that have transpired in just the last 20 years.

  • Key business applications moved from the Mainframe to PCs with the advent of affordable personal computing
  • Distributed systems replaced the vast majority of workloads that were initially built on the mainframe bringing to life the concept of an affordable “Data Center” for companies of all sizes
  • The Internet brought us the ability to communicate outside the walls of our Data Center and with it an evolution in communications like we have never seen before with real-time email, ubiquitous search and most recently, social media. Mobile devices extended the reach of these communications so that we all had it at our fingertips wherever and whenever we wish
  • The advent of the cloud transformed computing from an “asset” to a “utility” bringing down the cost of building out a minimally viable product and acting as a springboard for application developers from around the world to design, deploy and monetize new services and new business models
  • Initially many thought that the cloud would eventually displace corporate Data Centers but instead what we have seen is that the cloud is thriving in co-existence with the Data Center. Organizations now have more choice than ever on how to architect their key applications and where to deploy them

Just around the corner there is a promise with the “Internet of Things” powering the transformation of all machines into “smart machines”; communities into “smart cities, factories into “smart manufacturing”, farms into “Smart Agriculture” and hospitals into “Smart Heathcare”.

Ultimately beyond the hype associated with IoT there comes a challenge with respect to the coming deluge of data, and its very real;

  • In fact, according to a recent Cisco blog – “By the year 2020, the IoT will comprise more than 30 billion connected devices”. The vast majority of these devices will be collecting and monitoring data real-time
  • As a case in point, according to Data Science Central – In 2015, the Airbus 350 aircraft had approximately 6,000 sensors across the entire plane and a single plane was generating more than 2.5 TB of data per day (That is 2X the capacity of an average PC users hard-drive every single day). The newer Airbus 380 has over 10,000 sensors in the wing alone and generates more than 3X the data of a A350

Over the last 12 months the IoT conversation has to shifted from the “Art of the Possible” to forward thinking organizations building a plan to manage, protect and harness the value of all of this data – So, What should new organizations be thinking about with the Edge upon us?

  1. Recognize that the Edge is real – Neither current Data Centers nor the cloud can extend to individual machines; at least not for the foreseeable future due to bandwidth and latency constraints. This is especially evident in industries that exist in remote locations. Andressen Horowitz partner Peter Levine expressed this phenomenon well in this presentation. This brings the concept of edge computing or even edge cloud into the mix.
  2. Think about embracing new architectures that extend traditional infrastructure services (compute, storage and network) as well as core applications to the Edge allowing for near-line security, analytics and action. Remember, the future is no longer about just Data Center and Cloud; it now includes intelligent edge nodes that drive their own core services
  3. Think about accelerating the enrichment of data – The future will rely heavily on pictures, video, audio and unstructured data sets. All of this data will need to be ingested and meta-data tagged at the source in order to effectively blend it with complimentary data sets (i.e. matching the license plate on a vehicle to its maintenance records)
  4. Think about extending current analytics models – For example,
    • Real-Time analytics at the edge for high risk/high reward events (i.e. stop a train, shut down a manufacturing line)
    • Core based Analytics to look at the performance of a group of machines in a given area (transportation scheduling, energy distribution, farm yields)
    • Cloud Analytics to look at macro-trends
  5. Think about further blurring the lines between the Business and IT – Lines of Business will need to continue to evolve their relationships with internal and key IT partners as key decisions are made ensuring that fixed asset investments can interoperate with applications and the network. If these two organizations do not collaborate on key decisions technical issues could bring significant challenges
  6. Look to proven use cases and adjust them to suit your business needs – Many of the use cases mentioned above have already been proven and can be leveraged as reference architectures to accelerate your journey


The INTELLIGENT EDGE is upon us – Lets seize the opportunity!

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