Before lift-off: The parts required for excellent edge computing

Posted by Marc-Elian Bégin on 14 February 2022

Embarking on an edge computing journey? It's helpful to know what's running under the hood.

Private pilots like me are trained to always take a careful look under the airplane engine cowling prior to lift-off.

Similarly, everyone embarking on an edge computing journey should know about the powerhouse. In an ideal world, you’ll select a managed edge solution which frees you to focus on your business instead of the underlying IT bits and pieces. But it’s helpful to know what’s running your edge computing.

The parts required for excellent edge computing are:

  • Edge hardware for running applications at the edge (unless this hardware is embedded in a single sensor, which probably means significant lock-in and constraints on how your solution will be able to evolve).

  • Sensors and actuators – these are your “things” in the Internet of Things.

  • One or more apps to process the data produced by your things, extract insights, generate real-time events and act locally if needed.

  • A management platform to ensure your fleet of edge devices is online and doing what it is supposed to do. This will also allow you to deploy, update and upgrade the apps deployed at the edge. It’s rapidly becoming the norm to use third-party apps (e.g. machine learning), so the management platform must be sufficiently open to host these apps. It should also be capable of evolving and, even better, hosting your own apps and those from a range of vendors and app developer partners.

And remember that you don’t have to buy and install software yourself anymore, since a managed service – also referred to as software-as-a-service (SaaS) – is now available, taking away much of the pain and risk for you. There are of course security and data sovereignty issues to consider, and I will cover these topics in a future article.

With all the right elements, you can have what everyone wants – an edge solution that’s lock-in free and future proofed. But don’t be led into believing it’s easy to pull together those disparate parts and come up with the perfect do-it-yourself (DIY) solution. Find out about potential pitfalls by reading another of my blogs: Taking off with edge computing? Don’t clip your own wings.

If you need more information or have any questions, please get in touch.

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