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For many industries, distributed operational locations are a fundamental part of business, for example transport, supply chains, retail, energy, and telecoms to name a few. For organisations solving the problem of delivering consistent digital services across their federated, and in some cases mobile, locations raises many operational and technical challenges from reliable communication, to governance and control.
Edge computing describes the way organisations tackle the challenge of decentralising their I.T. to support their distributed organisational models; providing compute and data storage closer to where it is needed. It involves moving computing resources from data centres and the cloud to edge locations that are physically closer to users and data sources.
There are many reasons for developing greater edge computing capabilities, including:
- Increased autonomy, resilience and availability, where the edge can continue to operate if there are network failures elsewhere
- Allowing for real-time analysis and processing of location specific data
- Federating and maintaining common standards and approaches
With the growth of internet-connected devices and new applications that require real-time analysis, the volume of data being generated and processed is ever escalating, thus increasing the requirement for technologies such as edge computing.
As an example, edge computing allows autonomous cars to make real-time decisions locally, instead of introducing potential latency and unreliability as data is sent to and processed in a cloud network. Another example is where mobile edge computing can provide an improved user experience when sharing data with other nearby mobile users, such as for ridesharing, dating and fitness location based apps.
People are important
It’s important to consider not just the technology, but the people, process and cultural aspects in order to successfully move to the edge. This article will focus on 4 of the key people and teams involved.
Senior Leadership Team
The senior leadership team focuses on driving business differentiation and strategy to increase the value they provide to their customers. Implementing edge computing can lead to improving the customer experience and customer engagement, driving business growth, creating new revenue streams, decreasing the operational costs and gaining insights from data collected. Edge computing allows greater control of personal data, the ability to offer enhanced content delivery services (including AR/VR) and compliance to regulatory requirements that only allow data within a certain geographic location. Red Hat can work with customers to identify whether edge computing, or another solution, would allow the organisation to execute their strategy and achieve their goals.
The operations team within organisations are often already overworked and understaffed, and are looking at how they can achieve more with their existing teams. Red Hat limits the learning and expertise required to implement and manage an edge computing solution. Red Hat can work with customers moving to the edge to:
- Provide a centralised, scalable and automated management solution for the multitude of additional locations, have zero touch provisioning if possible
- Ensure there is a consistent operating environment across the locations
- Enable workloads to be placed where and when they are needed based on changing market conditions. This is done with minimal to no business impact and provides resilience if there is network disruption or sparse connectivity back to the data centre or cloud.
In many cases, edge computing can add complexity and constraints to I.T. system requirements. Developers need to be able to accommodate and adapt to these demands, building them into their application architectures and delivery pipelines. Red Hat can work with developers to ensure they are able to consistently develop applications using the same tools and processes regardless of where the workload is located or what the target device is.
Edge computing brings security benefits, such as storing data in a decentralised model and allowing sensitive information to be filtered and monitored locally and only sending necessary data to the data centre or cloud, but with these benefits come challenges. Recommended approaches include securing APIs with mutual authentication and encryption, securing data and processes as a matter of course, and implementing sufficient protection from internal and external attacks. Security considerations extend from beyond the runtime environment and operational software systems, but include the entire infrastructure supporting the development, delivery and maintenance of edge services. Red Hat works with customers to ensure that security is a foundation on which edge solutions are designed and built, and not an afterthought.
What is Red Hat’s approach to edge computing?
Red Hat’s approach is via our Open Hybrid Cloud vision, focusing on enabling any workload to be placed on any footprint, in any location at scale. Depending on the use case, edge computing solutions may require different technologies across multiple hardware and software platforms. People play a key part in the approach. We work alongside the open source communities and our ecosystem of partners, to provide interoperable solutions and avoid fragmentation or lock-in.
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About the authors
Katrina Novakovic is Chief of Staff for EMEA Presales & Services, focusing on EMEA-wide strategic programs and initiatives. Ultimately, the focus is on ensuring Red Hat's enterprise customers are successful, achieved by using open source software, principles and methodologies. Novakovic believes that open source and the unique culture is Red Hat's differentiator and is passionate about sharing this.
Chris Jenkins is an experienced EMEA based Chief Technologist who provides a broad range of technical and and non-technical skills to enterprise customers.
Ed Seymour has over 20 years of experience working in software development and IT automation. Seymour’s career started with a small software startup. He later moved on to work at a global IT services company, where he gained experience promoting and effecting organisational change and adoption of agile methods and automation. At Red Hat, Seymour works with customers and partners on driving software delivery improvements through a combination of changes in technology, ways of working and organisational approaches. In particular, Seymour focuses on supporting and enabling shifts to cloud-native development.
Noel O'Connor is a Senior Principal Architect in Red Hat's EMEA Solutions Practice specializing in cloud-native application and integration architectures. Since 2008, he has worked with many of Red Hat's global enterprise customers in both EMEA and Asia. He's co-authored a number of books, including "DevOps with OpenShift" and "DevOps Culture and Practice with OpenShift."