Edge computing might not be quite what you think it is. Or it could be, after all. That’s because, says specialist availability vendor APC’s reseller channel manager Jamie Corrigan, ‘the edge’ means different things to different people.
“And that’s fine, it doesn’t really matter,” he notes, “But what does is that whatever your edge is, business continuity requires that it should be resilient, capable of running even when the worst happens.”
Taking a step back, Corrigan points out the dramatic move into the cloud by organisations of every kind. Whether a filling station, a farmer, a regional retail outlet, a co-operative or a consulting firm, chances are some, most or even close to all infrastructure, applications, and services are in the cloud. Business is truly global, even for the most regional operators, and the pace of ‘shifting online’ is only accelerating, as confirmed by Reseller News. A recent article highlights Garner, Inc. figures showing that end user spending on public cloud services growing at over 26 percent and is set to reach $2.58 billion in 2022.
What’s that got to do with edge computing, then? Quite a bit, really, says Corrigan. “Even as more and more goes into the cloud, there remains this necessity for a truly Hybrid approach. Certain applications and workloads still need to reside where they are most beneficial to the business, along with the hardware that’s required to run them, and connect to the cloud. And that, in a nutshell is what the edge is.”
While this means applications in some cases, in most others it falls under the broad category of ‘Customer Premises Equipment’ (CPE). It’s the Point-of-Sale equipment, including credit card terminals, receipt printers, computers and laptops, even mobile phones. It’s the devices connecting to those cloud services – and if the ‘value chain’ starts at a device and goes all the way to an AWS data centre in Australia or the United States, then the weakest point in the chain might just be at its closest edge.
“This is the edge we’re interested in. Yes, it might be some grand idea of a micro-data centre in a box – and we can provide the infrastructure and power for exactly that - but also yes, it is the CPE on your desk or in your drive-through. If that stuff isn’t as reliable as the cloud service sitting behind it, then the cloud service itself isn’t reliable,” Corrigan says.
A reliable edge is about business continuity
Keeping ‘all that is left behind’ on premises running smoothly is, ultimately, what APC is about. With its background firmly in Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) Corrigan confirms APC offers an enormous catalogue of solutions spanning hardware and software, designed to provide accurate insight into everything required from a power perspective (and a bit more) to keep the lights on in the event of a disruption.
“Of course, continuity itself means different things to different people, and different organisations,” he points out. For example, vulnerable people in areas where copper telephone lines are being removed may require continuity solutions as they are being put on fibre, because if a 111 call is required, the Optical Network Terminal and broadband modem must have power. A retailer would want card machines always working. The consulting company might require redundant power supplies for an in-office server rack.
The point is that with a catalogue catering for everything from an enterprise data centre to a domestic residence, APC is ready to work with customers no matter their specific continuity requirements.
And as society seeks transitions to alternative energy forms, including wind and solar, Corrigan says there is every likelihood that closer attention will be paid to continuity. “There is likely to be a transitional phase, where energy reliability might vary as more wind and solar enter the mix. With our solutions, we’re able to measure, monitor and know with precision just exactly what is required for a reliable edge, and then deliver it.”
He stresses that APC works exclusively through partners, but does get involved directly with customers. “There’s good reason for that. A lot of what we do is quite specialised, bringing together expertise from the power side of things with the IT side. Working with partners like Acquire means we add a very specific set of expertise to individual requirements, helping create an eventual solution which is accurately specified and delivered.”
In other words, Corrigan says, whatever the edge means to you, and whatever your continuity requirements, there is an APC solution available. “We’ll keep the lights on – along with anything else you can’t go without,” he concludes.