Edge pushes boundaries

Edge ecosystems, 5G and hybrid cloud will be the key drivers of infrastructure change in 2023, says Pulsant’s Technology Director Mike Hoy.

The development of UK-wide edge computing platforms will continue to shift the way businesses operate and improve the quality of life for millions of people living outside the main metropolitan areas, claims Hoy. “It’s already starting to transform content delivery, virtual reality, real-time advertising and even remote healthcare,” he stated.

According to Hoy, ecosystems will power UK business to the edge – and as the year progresses, organisations engaged in major projects such as smart cities or industrial IoT implementations will seek out ecosystems over a single-vendor approach. “Their dependence on data means these projects will require edge computing for advances such as intelligent, interactive transport systems, remote, AI-powered live video analysis, or highly automated and complex manufacturing,” he said.

“In each case, organisations will want access to more than just a data centre. They will want edge expertise and an ecosystem of companies with a specialist understanding of use cases and specific types of connectivity and backhaul. And they will want to avoid being totally reliant on a single vendor. More than one view and multiple options are necessary so organisations can maximise performance and resilience while keeping a lid on costs.”

Mobile edge computing ecosystems, for example, will facilitate faster and more flexible deployment of location-based services, along with content delivery applications. “Many sectors such as logistics will adopt an ecosystem-based approach,” added Hoy. “Gartner predicts 25 per cent of supply chain decisions will be made across intelligent edge ecosystems by the end of 2025. Supply chains will be more dynamic and cover larger networks where data and decisions originate at the edge from operators, machines, sensors and devices.”

Applications focused on real-time and aggregated data analytics need connectivity that has either low jitter, loss and lag or has dedicated high bandwidth. “The telcos have been first movers in this market with 5G, but carrier fibre delivers waves that are more dependable,” said Hoy. “MECs (multi-access edge computing environments) provide IT services, compute and cloud access but this will soon give way to sliced radio networks or shared services at the metropolitan level. There are already live use cases in the transport and energy sectors, but large scale adoption will follow once edge infrastructure platforms have fully developed their low latency connectivity, high-speed backhaul to the public cloud and local computing capabilities.”

Organisations want edge expertise and an ecosystem of companies with a specialist understanding of use cases and specific types of connectivity and backhaul

Expectations will likely grow as businesses see how the rollout of 5G mobile connectivity enables transformational changes in efficiency. In many sectors, high capacity and high bandwidth 5G opens the door to analytics-driven automation and digital twin modelling, regardless of location. “Businesses looking to implement these technologies will want to benefit from direct connectivity to the world’s top cloud providers at the same time as processing data locally to achieve the right level of latency and cost optimisation,” added Hoy. “Organisations will seek simplicity in cloud connectivity partnerships to avoid the complexity of using different exchanges and third party networks.”

Hybrid cloud growth
According to Hoy, hybrid cloud is poised to grow even faster in 2023. The global hybrid cloud market was valued at $85 billion in 2021 and Statista forecasts it to grow to $262 billion in 2027. “There are good reasons behind this growth,” stated Hoy. “Hybrid architectures can be notoriously complex and costly to operate, but the advent of next-generation cloud management platforms is removing many of these drawbacks.
“Organisations with hybrid cloud architectures combine the best of the public or private clouds and on-premises data centres. They benefit from more cost control, faster application deployment and the ability to manage workloads centrally while extending advanced orchestration capabilities to the edge.

“With new toolsets they can manage all their environments from a single interface and gain a full understanding of performance. Instead of watching costs rack up with no gain in performance, this is a year when more organisations will switch between environments according to their own requirements, rather than the cloud provider’s.”

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