Edge computing represents the next great step in the evolution of business operations. With the inevitable network congestion caused by an explosion of smart, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and local site compute nodes; edge computing helps decongest business operations by pushing the processing of requests away from the primary data center and out to the edge.
First Came The Datacenter
Before edge computing, data center operations ruled systems architectures. It’s one of the great innovations in network technology from the days of mainframe operations, providing access to data and applications from just about anywhere. As long as there’s a working internet connection, there’s a way to access a consolidated system to get the required data. What started as an online file storage exchange grew into a repository for always-ready applications. From social media portals to virtual banks to online games, users can access their data anytime and anywhere. They can continue from where they left off using whatever device is on hand.
However, the success of big datacenter models proved less workable a solution for low-latency applications, when time matters in computing far-away datacenter locations often trade powerful, localized compute resources for the speed of accessibility. Soon, more and more devices realized the convenience of processing data locally for consolidation, synchronization, and transmission to other (remote) local sites.
Think of smart refrigerators that sense when milk is about to run out, factory floor monitors that gather production data like output per hour and rejection rates, or even self-driving cars that show off their position while getting data about other objects on the road. These devices, which are in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, all perform and fulfill their individual roles on the edge, closest to the user, by connecting to other (local) devices and remote systems.
Congestion On The Remote Server
Ultimately, every bit of data in a datacenter will have to manifest itself as physical memory in a server somewhere. Whether you utilize an enterprise server, managed, colocation, or cloud, a server is out there constantly receiving, processing, and transmitting information. No matter how small each device’s footprint is, you can imagine the congestion caused by every computer, smart device, or IoT device in your area transmitting and receiving information continuously. This can lead to incredible network congestion that can cause a number of issues.
The farther the server is from the device accessing it, the longer the time it will take to complete a process. Also known as round-trip-time, latency is the delay between a user's local action and a remote application's response to that action. Ideally, processing such as clicking on a link and navigating to the next page should complete in real-time, meaning once you click you instantaneously get taken to the next page.
While most applications can forego a millisecond or two, some processes need real-time results or else face real-world consequences. For example, a second’s delay in transmitting an oncoming vehicle’s position can lead to an accident. Or, a hospital emergency team unable to access a patient’s data in time to know allergies or contraindications to certain medicine applied during emergency situations. Latency remains an important factor to consider when choosing server services.
In addition, the explosion of IoT devices into the public is taking a heavy toll on data center servers. IoT devices transmit massive amounts of data which leads to the next issue: cost.
Paying for data center systems may prove tricky, as different vendors offer different ways of computing for costing and use their own terminology. Even if you get the science right and know exactly what you’re paying for, many companies who rely on dozens or hundreds of local devices to gather data find themselves spending a lot on data center server costs. It’s not like you have much of a choice. Either you get the complete data sent or you don’t. Either way, you get charged.
Edge Computing Helps Fill Traditional Computing’s Shortcomings
Edge computing helps solve both latency and cost issues by moving many of the computing processes away from the centralized data center servers. Instead, edge computing allows for data retrieval and processing nearer to the end-user.
If your business falls under any of the categories below or is similar in nature, chances are that you are either already working with edge computing, or almost certainly will be soon:
- Banks that maintain remote branches in rural areas
- Hospitals with secure patient histories and records
- Manufacturing companies that own factories located in remote areas near raw material sources
- OEM that produces smart appliances or equipment with IoT systems.
- Local government unit handling a modernized transport sector agency
- Retail chain with multiple branches
- Industries such as oil and gas which require extensive monitoring at all production facilities, floors, and pipelines.
- Businesses with operations in areas that have spotty or weak internet connections.
Basically, companies and agencies that require data-driven technology to measure output or efficiency or perform processes using local data can benefit from edge computing. Instead of depending entirely on cloud computing to handle operations and process data, the local servers will take over many of the functions at the edge. Decentralizing the network unclogs the system, which leads to network performance improvement.
Why is Edge Computing Relevant To Your Business Operations?
Edge computing works by making remote applications and data more accessible. Instead of being totally dependent on a centralized network where core processes are found in the middle, data and functions can be accessed through distributed networks. But edge computing also presents additional management challenges that are simply an inherent characteristic of their distributed, remote, and unstaffed natures.
Satellite Locations Often Lack Onsite Resources
For businesses operating branches or facilities in remote locations, setting up a network comparable to the head office is not as simple. Satellite branches are built with specific but limited objectives in mind. This means secondary locations do not have the manpower, the resources, or the capability the main office has. A secondary role also means a reduced operating budget and a smaller financial room in which to operate.
Consequently, maintaining an effective network system with satellite branches and the main office will require edge computing solutions. This is where being small can help. Edge computing devices will require smaller (or lesser) and minimal space (a closet) to begin operations properly.
A common feature among satellite branches or manufacturing facilities is the multifunctionality of key staff. Top brass will expect the highest-ranking officer, which is the office manager, to wear many hats during his tenure. He is expected to singularly handle the role of administration manager, finance officer, sales manager, and even factory boss.
Consequently, the role of the IT manager also often falls in the lap of the office manager. Given the multiple demands of the job, plus the need to constantly coordinate with the main office, getting a good grip of edge computing systems is probably among the lowest priorities. Turning the system on and off is the most realistic expectation for non-IT management.
Getting Tech Onsite Is Not A Cost-Effective Option
Conversely, the remoteness of a satellite location can be a testy issue for arranging IT site visits. And even if by chance an IT representative will take the journey to a remote location, the costs of traveling to and from a worksite to check a small caged server installed in a broom closet might be too high. Add the fact that the ongoing pandemic is encouraging all workers to consider working from home for the time being, and it adds up to the impracticality of deploying tech teams to deal with issues.
Without Onsite Assistance, How Can You Diagnose What’s Wrong?
In order to diagnose and monitor edge computing systems remotely, tech teams will need actual visibility on the devices. Otherwise, companies might burn time and money making unverified claims with inaccurate data. For example, you deploy a top IT tech team to fly in and out of a remote location with sophisticated tools. Upon arrival, they quickly determine that an environmental issue (inadequate heating or cooling) was the culprit that made the edge data center lose power. In cases like this, getting a complete system that monitors server activity round the clock might prove more cost-efficient than flying teams in.
The Solution To Edge Computing Monitoring
When deploying remote teams to help scan edge computing systems and edge data centers, it’s important to have a comprehensive monitoring system in place to show the real and complete picture.
RF Code is a leading solutions provider for companies in need of efficient monitoring systems for edge computing and other data center types. Our cutting-edge hardware and software solutions provide complete, continuous monitoring and instant alerting necessary to prevent serious downtime. Our platforms have both video and software solutions when monitoring sensitive edge systems even from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
RF Code features the following capabilities:
RF Code proprietary software helps set up a dynamic inventory management system for all devices and components. It can continuously track assets, audit asset inventory, and manage assets throughout their entire lifecycle.
RF Code lets remote teams monitor temperature, humidity, and related environmental metrics down to the rack level. This helps paint a bigger picture as to why or how edge devices fail or do not perform as expected.
Video and software monitoring helps improve security through continuous visibility. Timely alerts on critical areas can ensure immediate feedback to address problems. This creates the effect of preventing or minimizing downtimes. Keeping equipment up to date and working perfectly also ensures that regulatory laws are being complied with.
The Solution for Unmonitored, Unstaffed, Remote Edge Data Centers
RF Code for Edge provides an array of smart RFID-active sensors, a dedicated reader infrastructure, and CenterScape monitoring software to provide visibility of your entire fleet of edge computing system devices.
The active RFID system ensures that as more devices pile up into your inventory, the monitoring system remains in control. Each asset will be assigned a unique tag that RF Code’s dedicated readers can track throughout its lifespan. Whether you’re dealing with a single remote location with over a dozen devices, or managing a global entity with thousands of assets scattered in over a dozen locations, the system can tag, track, and gather information on the entire asset fleet in real-time.
Specifically, RF Code for Edge monitors the following conditions:
Temperature and Humidity – Given network assets’ sensitivity to temperature and humidity extremes, monitoring the environment, and getting readings accurate to within 2° F and 4% RH, can help ensure that edge equipment is kept operating under optimal environmental conditions.
Power – Instead of tapping directly into the power source, RF Code’s AC voltage sensor wraps around the outside of an electrical cord to get localized readings on the presence or absence of power.
PDU Integration – Wireless power sensors provide continuous monitoring of power distribution unit metrics at the rack level. This including monitoring statuses per phase, per outlet, and over-current protection.
Fluid Detection – Designed for cages located in flood-heavy locations or storage areas that are prone to condensation. As soon as the detection strip gets into contact with liquids, the system emits an alert so that measures can be taken.
Door Status – RF Code continuously monitors the state of server closet doors. It provides an update on whether doors are currently open or closed. The system also monitors for authorized and unauthorized access to secure spaces. Properly closed server doors are critical in ensuring proper cooling.
Asset Visibility – Connecting via RFID tags, RF Code locators can track all edge computing assets and get their precise location down to the individual room and rack levels.
Video Monitoring – Visual confirmation can always resolve with finality any doubts on the state of any device in the data center. RF Code video monitoring systems show the state of the data center 24/7, allowing you to get the bigger picture when reviewing incidents of downtime, power loss, or unauthorized access.
Edge Compute Monitoring Gives Your Business An Edge
Edge computing is what businesses need to effectively maintain communication with the rest of their organization. To ensure that your edge computing systems are performing optimally, you’ll need a complete hardware and software solution to monitor system performance no matter where the devices are.
Learn more about how RF Code’s comprehensive data center monitoring systems can help manage your most remote and demanding edge computing environments, increase efficiency, and save money on bandwidth costs and unnecessary site visits. Visit our website and schedule a free demo.