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Edge Adoption is Growing Across Industries—Here’s Why

Over the past several years, companies across industries have been turning to Edge Computing to empower both operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) teams, support mission critical applications and data, and rein in costs. Recently, Edge Computing has gained popularity due to its scalability, ability to manage advanced analytics and prevent downtime. In fact, our recent research with Espalier (formerly Boston Analytics) reveals that the Edge Computing industry is projected to grow by almost $10 billion through 2026. This fast-growing evolution is similar to the cloud a decade ago, and perhaps even “greased the skids” for faster adoption of Edge Computing.

In the early days of cloud computing, critics felt that moving mission critical applications and data away from the data center would be a mistake, since the cloud wouldn’t be reliable or secure enough to protect important material. Now, though, 89% of enterprises leverage a multi-cloud strategy to manage their operations, putting those skepticisms to rest. More recently, the Edge Computing industry went through that type of educational phase, one which followed a similar path as the cloud: employees were worried about change and trusting a new piece of technology to handle business critical data, but now, they are realizing that the benefits Edge Computing offers can help them achieve more.

As companies look to streamline operations and create efficiencies while tightening overall costs, Edge Computing will take off in several growth segments.

Segment One: Edge Operations Technology

The Edge OT are the advanced computing devices that will power the smart factory by managing machines and equipment focused on advanced analytics, maintenance and augmented reality, and is projected to grow by as much as 13%.

Prior to the pandemic, it was uncommon for manufacturers to work remotely, but because of social distancing requirements due to COVID-19, manufacturers had to leverage Edge OT to enable remote work. By using Edge Computing, IT and OT teams can gather insights in real-time from any location. For example, remote IT workers are notified if something goes wrong, allowing them to resolve problems from anywhere. Edge Computing also enables the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), which make remote work easier.

Segment Two: OT Workloads 

These future compute devices will substitute proprietary solutions that are deployed at the Edge today, and because OT teams have traditionally leveraged Edge Computing, this growth area remains large—by 2026, this segment is projected to grow by more than 45%.

Thanks to its ability to manage various OT workloads at once, Edge Computing can provide operational efficiencies for OT teams. And, because these systems are completely virtualized, workers are available to focus on more strategic and value-added work. By creating an “always on” environment, Edge Computing delivers stability and trust, since it eliminates unplanned downtime. As a result, these machines bring compute capability near critical equipment to ensure reliable machine performance and non-stop data capture, helping to achieve operational excellence.

Segment Three: Edge IT Server Devices for Edge Adoption

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These devices are the ones that power larger facilities, such as airports and power plants. In these facilities, servers run site-wide industrial applications, and this segment is forecasted to leverage Edge Computing by a growth of 28% by 2026.

To be successful in this segment, companies are merging legacy servers with advanced virtualized edge computers or servers to reduce operating costs and capital expenditure costs. Due to their substantial size, these servers require greater resources to manage assets and their lifecycle, so combined with edge computers or servers, companies can decrease costs.

For example, in the case of Monitor and Control with HMI SCADA, Edge Computing platforms provide the required performance and fault tolerance needed to run and scale HMI SCADA and historian applications consistently for critical processes and equipment. Thanks to computing capabilities at the Edge, companies can see data through standardized HMI screens, accelerating data acquisition and enabling real-time processing and data storage for visibility and analysis.

Segment Four: Mission-critical Applications

By 2026, almost 30% of the mission-critical Edge Computing market will be comprised of IT edge workloads, on which site-wide industrial applications (distributed control systems, batch management, analytics and asset performance) will run. Currently, most mission-critical operations are performed on the edge of an organization’s network, but these operations and the equipment they rely on are connected to a quickly growing number of IoT devices.

Since OT teams have historically managed Edge Computing—but not tech buying and management—there are many legacy systems that aren’t interoperable or scalable. At the same time, the need for time-sensitive data and analytics has grown, and as a result, so has the need for reliability (as close to 100% uptime as possible) without losing data. But, since Edge Computing is primed for the seamless collection and processing of data, it is invaluable for OT teams.

On the IT side, as these applications have grown more complex and become more critical, it isn’t enough to have OT teams manage them alone. Since IT teams are the experts on ensuring that data governance, management and security, they need to ensure all of these factors are happening at the Edge and are deploying scalable systems that will save money and reduce business risk.

Edge Computing’s Future

As companies look to drive greater resilience and efficiency, Edge Computing adoption will only continue to increase across different verticals just as cloud did a decade ago. Both OT and IT teams can benefit from leveraging the technology to glean real-time insights, fix issues remotely and streamline operations.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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