The report found that a staggering 93% of respondents recognize the edge as a competitive advantage for their businesses. The majority of respondents — 88% — acknowledge the significance of 5G as a key facilitator in driving technological advancements.
Notably, those organizations that leverage private 5G networks in conjunction with edge computing report the highest level of benefits.
The primary motives behind investing in edge infrastructure are to enable automation and artificial intelligence, facilitate real-time data access, enhance operational efficiency, and accommodate the growing number of internet of things (IoT) devices. Industries at the forefront of leveraging edge computing include manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and logistics, energy and utilities, and financial services.
Top reasons to deploy edge solutions are:
- Increasing employee safety, experience, and efficiency (79%)
- Streamlining/digitizing business processes (76%)
- Improving customer experience/anticipating customer needs (74%)
- Increasing the use of data insights for decision-making (72%)
While organizations see the potential in the edge, there are also concerns.
"What stood out to us was that although enterprises recognize the transformative power of edge technology, nearly 40% of those planning edge deployments are concerned that their current infrastructure won't be able to support their future deployments," Parm Sandhu, vice president of Enterprise 5G Products and Services at NTT, told ITPro Today.
Barriers to Adoption of Edge Computing Remain
There are a number of things that need to change if more organizations are to benefit from the edge.
Management of compute, connectivity, and IoT devices needs to become more unified and seamless, according to Sandhu. Otherwise, they are a hindrance in terms of reaching the full potential of edge. He added that consistent and secure edge application performance is critically dependent on an organization's network connectivity. As such, the movement of data will require a low-latency environment and future edge deployments strongly correlate to a campus network overhaul.
One key trend that Sandhu said might help to overcome some of the challenges is the rise of edge-as-a-service (EaaS), with eight in 10 organizations indicating their dependency on third-party edge services is likely to grow over the next two years. Notably, 91% of organizations indicated they partner for edge expertise through a managed-service model to protect their organizations from infrastructure obsolescence.
Edge vs. Cloud Computing
Edge computing isn't necessarily about replacing cloud computing, but rather about extending it.
"Edge computing places the cloud's processing power at the edge of the enterprise network, enhancing a wide range of use cases," Sandhu said.
Those use cases can include verticals such as manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare organizations. Sandhu noted that where organizations see the real value of edge applications is in their ability to take advantage of low latency, predictability, and high bandwidth for real-time data collection to perform according to industry-specific needs. For example, he noted that among manufacturing firms, operational efficiency was listed as the top-ranked edge investment driver, with data security ranked second.
"Through edge processing, the organization is not only able to reconcile actual and expected shipping weight of packaged goods, but to alert teams against errors and stolen goods through real-time data," Sandhu said.
About the authorSean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He consults to industry and media organizations on technology issues.