Consider these facts. A McKinsey study states that consumers today own an average of four IoT devices that communicate with the cloud. Globally, an estimated 127 new devices connect to the Internet every second. A Cisco study claims that the number of devices connected to IP networks will be more than three times the global population by 2022. The same study also claims that M2M connections will be more than half of the global connected devices and connections by 2022.
This has a big impact on the data center, as sensors can generate enormous amount of data that can easily overwhelm the bandwidth of the network. The cloud can also prove to be expensive in many cases, as the cost of moving data back and forth to the cloud does not make economic sense in all use cases.
Edge Computing has come as a welcome solution, and this is where Schneider Electric, is betting big as the firm believes that this will be an enormous opportunity for Schneider Electric and its partners. This is corroborated by independent statistics from firms such as Gartner which states that by 2025, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and stored at the edge. Similarly, an IDC FutureScape report states that by 2022, 40% of enterprises will have doubled their IT asset spending in edge locations and nearby co-location facilities versus core datacenters to deliver digital services to local users and things.
Edge Computing was the key area of focus at a recent customer and press meet organized by Schneider in Singapore. Said Nikhil Pathak, VP Strategy, International, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric, “Edge is at the core of the transformation for businesses. We believe that there are huge opportunities for Schneider Electric in Edge Computing”.
Glen Duncan, Associate Research Director, IDC, said that “Edge Computing was a new dawn”. He highlighted that empowered customers are demanding targeted contextual interactions, which has led to increase in demand for edge computing solutions. Glen Duncan also predicted a shift in spending towards edge centric locations. Quoting IDC Research, he said, “By 2022, 40% of enterprises will have doubled their IT asset spending in edge locations and nearby collocation services versus core data centers to deliver digital services to local users”. He cited use cases such as unmanned stores in Thailand where a combination of technologies such as AI, IoT and facial recognition was being used to offer customized and personalized offers to retailers.
While edge computing can bring in huge benefits, all edge environments have some common challenges. These include poor resiliency, lack of remote monitoring and management and lack of standardization. The solution to solve these challenges is a combination of an integrated system, a cloud-based architecture and an ecosystem of partners.
Said Dave Johnson, Executive VP, Secure Power Division, “With our flagship IoT platform, EcoStruxure, we believe that we have a huge opportunity to capture the enormous business opportunity that will arise out of the convergence of OT and IT systems. To help our customers achieve the best out of edge computing solutions, we have over 5,500 trained partners and over 7500 professional and field service experts.”
Kevin Brown, Senior VP – International, & CTO, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric, seconded the view of Johnson on the challenges that edge sites faced, and highlighted that with EcoStruxure, Schneider Electric, was trying to address the challenges that edge sites had. “The industry needs an integrated ecosystem coupled with management tools and AI to augment staff. Conventional tools are not going to work at the edge.”
Jim Simonelli, SVP, Energy Businesses, Secure Power Division, Schneider, highlighted the importance of security in edge sites. “We need integrated systems with secure prescription. The system must be easy for users to select, configure and manage. We need remote monitoring tools with services delivery”. EcoStruxure has been a huge success for Schneider, with the platform managing more than 1,85,000 devices globally for more than 2,500 customers.
Opportunities for partners
The confluence of IT and OT is presenting huge opportunities for partners, and Natalya Makarochkina, Senior VP, International, Secure Power, Energy Management Business, Schneider Electric, explained how an integrated partner ecosystem can enable digital transformation at the edge.
Makarochkina said, “Digitization requires a new ecosystem that can handle more complex processes and provide richer experiences. The future belongs to partners who can support new service based business models. Edge computing presents huge opportunities for partners to create more value from the convergence of IT & OT. From design through deployment, technology integrations and design tools enable greater value and business opportunities. Partners can expect a 2x increase in their gross margins, while customers can benefit from reduction of IT services cost with an increase in availability. We believe that this is a huge opportunity for partners as digitization of OT means that IT partners can go to OT areas which are typically not the domain of IT partners. We see big opportunities for partners in sectors such as education, hospitals and real estate.”
• This writer attended the conference in Singapore as a guest of Schneider Electric