One of the more surprising insights from our annual Emerging Trends B-to-B market research is the incredible growth and innovation around Edge Computing. While many of the shifts occurring relate to the continuous connectivity to the cloud, one innovation in the horizon, in particular, is the development of 5G technology, the promised speed 10x that of 4G, and ultimately 5G’s ability to connect IoT devices. This trend will bring a massive amount of data to industrial settings, require closer data centers, and faster real-time analytics. Our research has uncovered some additional motives behind the growth of Edge servers at manufacturing plants:
We now live in a Cloud based world. Almost all analytics and all data for manufacturing are now moving to the cloud. And while consumers have no choice but to pay a monthly or yearly fee for cloud storage, enterprise accounting allows for split costs and transfer pricing among business units and divisions. Given the exploding costs associated with cloud computing, it should come as no surprise that edge computing offers a low cost, and very often a sunk cost, for hosting. Utilizing Edge computing in B-to-B can allow for business units to save money by implementing an edge solution where historically a cloud solution would be suggested (and promoted) both internally and from vendors.
- Legacy Systems:
Installing edge computing within legacy systems allows for better customization, at a lower cost structure, than an exclusively cloud-based solution. Legacy systems play into the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” law, why upgrade to a cloud computing-based contract when a fixed cost server does the job just as well?
- Compliance and Security:
It is far easier to comply with laws and regulations if an edge server collects and aggregates data before being shared with the cloud. It keeps the data on-premise and provides (supposedly) better safeguards and security.
- Reliable even with poor connection:
The fact is, not every plant always has on high-speed internet connectivity. Not only can this be costly, but often there is not enough of a financial incentive to have data constantly flowing to the cloud. “Always on” connectivity is expensive, but scheduled sync can offer many benefits. It allows for people to uncover incorrectly mapped data, the possibility to “test” the upload each time before it gets fully uploaded and allows for faster upload as it can be timed to happen when network traffic is light.
- Faster response times:
In business, “speed kills.” The faster your team can react to data, and the less latency your facility experiences, the better your results will be, and this holds true in virtually every manufacturing scenario. With the advent of 5G on the horizon, being able to see and react to data locally, as opposed to waiting for it to be uploaded and analyzed, gives teams an advantage to make quicker (but not necessarily better) decisions.
Turning machine data into business insights will require Industrial IoT companies to process and analyze massive amounts of data as close as possible to their source (the edge”). 5G promises to accelerate Edge Computing. To learn more about which brands are leading the shift for industrial companies to Edge Computing, please visit https://clearseasresearch.com/reports/.