VP of Ecosystem, ZEDEDA
As we watch various industries react to movement restrictions and new work-from-home environments, it has also caused us to reflect on the future of IoT and the role edge computing will play. We wanted to take this opportunity to share a few observations on how the current situation exemplifies the benefits of edge computing and having remote orchestration capabilities for critical systems through IoT solutions. While we hope that we’ll see a return to a more normal way of life soon, we believe that remotely-orchestrated IoT edge solutions will be an integral part of businesses’ digital strategies well into the future.
There have been numerous stories this year of IT departments struggling with the widespread transition of their employees to working at home. Networks are being pushed to the limit and people are experiencing the inconveniences of dropouts, reductions in streaming quality, and restrictions on the number of network connections, both in their professional and personal lives. This shift of many people hitting networks with their devices from highly distributed locations gives us a glimpse into the longer-term pattern being driven by IoT solutions. It serves to highlight how edge computing is required over time to supplement the cloud by reducing network bandwidth needs and decreasing latency, while maintaining autonomy and security. This is especially true considering that there will be an order of magnitude higher number of devices online than people in the future.
This situation also highlights the importance of having remote orchestration capabilities for critical systems, especially outside of traditional IT environments. While many knowledge workers and IT admins have been able to transition to working at home and maintain physical separation by using online collaboration tools, this isn’t an option for those with jobs that require contact with people and systems in the physical world. This includes not only the businesses we most readily think of as consumers, such as restaurants, bars, theaters, and gyms, but also hospitals, factories, refineries, warehouses, water and waste systems, transportation systems, and beyond.
Distributed IoT edge solutions can benefit operations within these environments by bridging the physical and digital world to not only increase efficiency, but also increase safety through improved visibility and by protecting workers from unnecessarily entering harsh environments. While these benefits are important on a daily basis, they are especially valuable at times like this.
Exacerbating the health risk from COVID-19 is the economic impact that’s making waves across the globe. One of the hardest-hit industries recently, due to compounding factors, has been oil and gas. Yet we’re seeing customers maintain or even accelerate their IoT projects because they need to remotely monitor wells to reduce costs and keep oil in the ground until prices improve. The cost reduction enabled by real-time processing at the edge with remote orchestration is due to both increased operational efficiency and the elimination of costly truck rolls to sites, which in turn also limits exposure of workers to hazardous conditions.
Even in normal circumstances, many industries can benefit from the real-time insights and remote operation capabilities that are driven by IoT and edge computing. Companies at the vanguard of digital transformation were working on these initiatives before the current pandemic, others have accelerated their efforts during this time, and still more will adopt them even after a return to normal. As more companies join the IoT edge ranks, it’s important to consider architecting IoT solutions from the start to be future-proof and to be able to adapt to the diverse nature of operations at the edge, so you can maintain your competitive advantage amid inevitable changes in both the technology and business landscapes.
Also published here.
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