Gain control at the edge: 3 strategies for overcoming edge computing challenges

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More than 75% of enterprise data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud by 2025, according to Gartner. To keep pace with this movement, you’ll need to place compute power closer to where data is generated – whether on premises, in the cloud, or at the edge – and ensure 100% availability.

This requires complete visibility into every aspect of your distributed environment – a requirement complicated by decreased headcounts, lack of dedicated IT spaces, unstaffed sites, and budget restrictions.

But unified management across sites isn’t out of reach. Here are three strategies for overcoming edge computing challenges.

1. Streamlined, standardized technologies

Edge computing environments are often found in remote, real-world locations – think manufacturing plants, hospital operating rooms, or school systems – where there is little-to-no IT support and varying levels of power and connectivity.

Standardized edge computing components can help in these areas.

With pre-integrated, pre-validated, and pre-tested converged and hyperconverged infrastructures in these environments, you can deploy devices quickly or easily swap them out on the fly. Furthermore, these components have smaller form factors that allow you to maximize floor space for the core business.

2. Intelligent monitoring and management tools

Having watchful eyes to manage your environment when you’re not there is vital to overcoming edge challenges. This is where intelligent monitoring and management tools come into play.

Today’s intelligent software solutions leverage cloud, IoT, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), enabling you to remotely monitor thousands of connected devices. From there, you can centralize that data, prioritize alerts, and aid in remote troubleshooting.

With these tools keeping an eye over your environment, you can gain remote visibility and proactive control over all edge computing system assets, regardless of vendor.

3. Expert partner-led services

If your organization doesn’t have the expertise to implement or manage the tools for overcoming edge difficulties, you can also look for management services to augment your IT team.

Some of these services may include design, configuration, delivery, installation, remote monitoring and troubleshooting, on-site parts or unit replacement, and monthly reporting and recommendations.

These sophisticated, scalable services and support offerings are often less expensive than in-house models. Plus, they keep you from having to hire expensive, hard-to-find IT talent, so your team can focus on mission-critical initiatives.

The three-pronged approach in action

Our engagement with the Bainbridge Island School District near Seattle, Washington, is a perfect example of how this three-pronged approach can help you overcome edge IT challenges.

While the district serves just 4,000 students, it has a relatively small IT team and its 11 sites are mostly unstaffed. However, its distributed environment relies heavily on continuous connectivity to power its digital classrooms and devices. Downtime isn’t in the curriculum.

After installing uninterruptible power supplies in all facilities, along with battery back-up, the district installed data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software to help supervise its network infrastructure. Unfortunately, the flood of data caused by the frequent changes in the power utility supply overwhelmed the district’s IT team.

To prioritize time and attention, the Bainbridge Island IT team implemented a cloud-based data-center-management-as-a-Service (DMaaS) solution that pulls all device data, regardless of vendor, into a central repository and makes it available on their smartphones. Alarms are automatically prioritized, allowing the team to quickly zoom in on affected devices and address problems quickly and efficiently.

As a result, not only do students and teachers enjoy an uninterrupted learning experience, the IT team has reduced the time spent on after-hours monitoring and troubleshooting from hours to minutes.

Get control at the edge

Standardized technologies, AI-enabled remote monitoring and management, and a proactive partnership helped the Bainbridge Island School District gain control at the edge. And its action plan can help others achieve similar results.

If Gartner’s forecast holds true, and 75% of data is created and processed outside the data center and cloud by 2025, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to adapt. By incorporating an approach that combines streamlined technology, monitoring and management tools, and services delivered via expert partners, you’ll be well on your way.

If you have additional questions about edge computing, contact SHI.

 About the author

Tim Figueredo is a National Account Manager for APC by Schneider Electric, the industry leader in integrated physical infrastructure and software. Tim specializes in helping customers solve the complex challenges of monitoring and managing remote IT infrastructure. He has been with APC for 8 years.