While Edge Computing will continue to spread across industries in 2020, there will still be growing pains as organizations learn what types of implementations can achieve the best results and how to use data to power digital transformation. For me, I see three areas where we will see increased clarity and confidence in Edge Computing.
Security at the Edge
One concern people have had for a while has been security at the edge. At Stratus we’ve seen that you can’t take the same security technology you’re using in the data center and apply it at the edge. The primary difference is the sheer number of connected devices, and each one represents a potential vulnerability point.
In 2020, security requirements at the edge will become more defined, either through work by industry consortiums, or by end users establishing specific requirements. Security criteria are likely to vary greatly by industry, with financial services companies having different Edge Computing needs and objectives than wastewater treatment facilities, for example. Enterprises should create security controls based on what data is collected, where it is used, and who needs access to it. For example, a device at the edge may not need to be connected to the cloud at all times, and can be configured to only initiate a connection when specific data needs to be transferred.
IT and OT
Another ongoing edge discussion focuses on how IT and OT teams interact with each other and who is responsible for various aspects of edge implementations. I believe in 2020, IT and OT will begin to collaborate more effectively as they gain better understanding around the role of each team member and clarification of swim lanes for Edge Computing. As responsibilities become clearer, the organization as a whole will adapt, in structure and through budget support. There are many benefits to this approach including delivering better customer experience via the application of predictive analytics.
Finally, I believe that OEM builders will bake more intelligence into their machines in recognition of the shortage of well-qualified technical staff in the field. It’s amazing to see the level of interest coming from people who are making very smart machines. They will add features like predictive maintenance, fault-tolerance and increased autonomy.
Machines will leverage the data they share better through software solutions like complex event processing. This will reduce the need for supervisory intervention and be the initial steps towards more machine adaptive processes. And this brings it around full circle to these smart machines helping with what I mentioned earlier about IT and OT and how they work together by incorporating technology into one machine, reducing complexity, but producing data that drives business results.
So as we enter 2020, I think we will see enterprises recognizing more use cases for Edge Computing and reacting accordingly by changing internal staffing structures, defining the data they need and how to best manage it, and being more specific about requirements from vendors and really optimizing Edge Computing as they move forward in their digital transformation initiatives.