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Intelligence at the edge

Industries are taking a quantum leap in terms of digitization journey in the post pandemic world, where organizations are moving toward a de-centralized set-up.

Intelligent Edge is a distributed computing technology where data is analysed and aggregated nearer to the edge (source), where things and people produce or consume the data. It moves powerful computing capabilities closer to the source of the data, making the operations more secure, lightning fast, less expensive, and most importantly, reduced latency which would be a propeller for Industry 4.0. Intelligent Edge is being looked up as a way of creating an edge over the competitors in an intelligent manner.

Intelligent Edge is the cutting edge today
As per Deloitte TMT predictions for 2021, Intelligent Edge will grow to USD 12 billion market globally with a CAGR of 35 percent. This growth will be driven by telecoms deploying Intelligent Edge for 5G networks and by hyperscale cloud providers through their infrastructure and service offerings. A recent Deloitte study on advanced wireless adoption shows how organizations are starting to adopt 5G and Wi-Fi 6 as strong enablers of the Intelligent Edge. The recent increase in maturity and adoption of Artificial Intelligence is also another enabler for the Intelligent Edge. With the telecom majors intending to start their trials on 5G in India soon, edge computing will open doors for creating more innovative services for the telecom subscribers. With many organizations looking to take the cloud journey for the first time and majority of the work force working from home in this post pandemic period, demand for edge enabled cloud service is on a rise.

Enabling business aspects through Intelligent Edge
It enables largescale transformational solutions in manu­­facturing, logistics, robotics, mobility, and consumer electronics space. Consider an oil rig using drones for inspection. With Intelligent Edge, the drone can directly use AI/ML inference algorithms to evaluate the video by operating on a small, near-realtime buffer of the video feed to classify defects. On real time identification it can immediately notify nearby crews to treat the problem. Only frames with defects are archived in the cloud to feed models and training sets, which can then be updated on other drones for better spotting.

This technology and its ability addresses emerging data sovereignty and compliance issues by storing the data locally and processing it without sending out to any foreign clouds. This feature increases the affinity of organizations to this new technology as it takes care of certain compliance requirements around data residency where there is a requirement of having personal information to be processed locally.

Focusing on Intelligent Edge ecosystem
The telecoms, hyperscalers, technology companies, and content delivery networks (CDN) providers form the Intelligent Edge ecosystem. They are all ramping up their efforts to market and sell edge capabilities and are moving them into the center of their own strategic road maps.

Telecom companies plan to leverage 5G, which not only increases speed and provides millisecond latency but also expands bandwidth to manage millions of devices per sq km. Hyperscalers have been focused on extending their capabilities closer to organizations they serve using edge. Edge does not replace hyperscalers, but it completes the cloud capabilities. Some of the hyperscalers, and telecoms control their own CDNs and, hence might not need external content delivery networks. The semiconductor players have brought AI and ML capabilities into the chips manufactured through as field programmable arrays (FPGA), application specific integrated circuits (ASICS), and graphical processing units (GPU). Technology companies have spent their effort on product and service ranges in terms of Intelligent Edge components, appliances, and software layers for implementations.

Bottom line
For building an effective, intelligent system, cooperation between different players, such as telecoms, hyperscalers, CDNs, and tech companies, is inevitable as each of them have their part to play in creating a successful Intelligent Edge ecosystems. Organizations need to understand that edge and intelligence are just components of a more holistic solution for faster data handling, greater autonomy, and transparency across operations, and a more flexible and adaptive enterprise.

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