Digital transformation, privacy, private mobile networks, and real-time, ultra-low latency applications are reversing the trend to a centralized cloud. As companies start to move away from centralized cloud computing, over the next few years the Edge compute market is projected to see significant growth. In fact, Gartner predicts that more than 50% of enterprise-managed data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud by 2025.
In this scenario, with the likely exception of general office applications, we will see computing become more distributed and closer to the application. Primary use cases driving enterprise edge compute growth are as follows.
#1: Digital transformation, privacy, and data security
Many enterprises still prefer or have a requirement to keep processing and data within the organization, especially for OT Systems (Operational Technology) as their private network gets more sophisticated. This has kept them from investing more in cloud computing, and focusing their attention (and budgets) at the edge instead.
Furthermore, the Pandemic brought a digital transformation and shift toward remote, distributed workforces, which has also pushed many of these businesses to grow their edge computing. These has been drastic adoption of a new workforce, software collaboration, and automation to adapt to a new reality – many of which entail a more sophisticated private and Edge network for performance and security purposes.
As we continue to see these fluctuations impact the workforce, with more to come including potential hiring freezes and layoffs in 2023, IT automation and self-management will remain a key consideration for businesses and those investing in infrastructure. In fact, according to IDC surveys conducted the past two years in a row, investment in the self-managing IT has surpassed both performance and reliability on the list of top concerns for compute and storage professionals. Given this growing demand and economic changes on the horizon, it’s integral that companies consider which integrated functionalities are offered on their current hardware platforms, for systems management, monitoring and provisioning, as well as who will be managing them.
#2: 5G and fiber enable low latency application
Standalone 5G and Fiber Optic Networks, which are finally being deployed at scale, enable a new class of low latency applications. While both offer both faster speeds and a wireless connection, they also require that compute workloads be moved closer to the application. Naturally this is leading to a decline in investment for centralized cloud computing, and instead causing many 5G operators to install compute and storage resources alongside the telecom infrastructure – with “micro” data centers and server deployments.
Industrial and manufacturing is seeing a similar trend, where the move towards more robotic control and automation with “Industry 4.0” requires faster communication speeds, lower latency, and more compute performance. Thus, it makes more sense for these businesses to install compute resources onsite – which is also easier and more affordable than in the past.
#3: Mobile private networks (MPN) galvanize enterprise networking and consolidate city infrastructures
The availability of Unlicensed Mobile spectrum, e.g., CBRS in the US, is transforming enterprise networks, especially where seamless mobility is a requirement or for larger sites where Wi-Fi coverage is limiting.
Mobile private networks, or MPNs, offer organizations more control, security, and customizable setups tailored to specific infrastructures, all while also requiring fewer monthly service fees. Almost every enterprise can benefit from the strength and added redundancy of MPNs, from industries like logistics warehousing, ports and shipping; mining, stadia, healthcare, corporate, higher education and even individual school district systems in the US. With a private network, IT teams can better monitor traffic and ensure the capacity for higher workloads during times of increased usage.
The availability of MPNs is also enabling more efficiently connected cities. Between digital transformation and the ability to deploy a secure Wide Area Private Mobile Network, cities can consolidate their IT, OT, IoT, and Citizen Networks into a single, secure private cloud. This private cloud is then connected to the public cloud and the internet.
To realize the full benefits of these MPNs, however, better edge computing is crucial. The onsite workload processing is typically performed locally in a server node to address the privacy and low latency requirements of these private networks. However, due to this added complexity, some major enterprises may opt to deploy major onsite compute resources, while smaller ones might rely on the infrastructure Telecom companies have started deploying.
As we enter 2023, the hardware industry should expect the digital transformation of the workforce to continue, as well as compute power needs shifting closer to the edge and application. Consequently, centralized cloud computing will decrease, and we may see organizations utilize more private networking and MPN options to handle their workloads. The evolving state of the global economy will have its own impact on the hardware market as well, and IT automation will remain a growing concern for those looking to cut staffing and management costs while handling high volumes of traffic when needed.
Overall, organizations this year will be looking to customize their infrastructures and save by investing in changes and staffing only when necessary, prioritizing control, cost and predictability in their setups.