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Exponential growth in IOT drives edge computing demands

Applications requiring quick response times, coupled with the need to adjust costs, are encouraging IOT systems to become closer to the user and the data source.

Johannesburg, 22 Oct 2019
Read time 3min 50sec
  • Edge computing creates bridge between big data and localised input
  • IOT needs compelling response time
  • Bringing AI closer to industry Bullets

From the hard drives of 30 years ago, technology has grown at such a rapid rate that any cellphone today has a bigger process capacity that any personal computer in the past. The Internet of Things (IOT) poses a similar challenge as networks of intelligent and connected devices, monitoring all types of systems, generating terabytes of data and needing storage, are escalating rapidly.

Whether it will be the 50 billion connected objects in 2020, as estimated by Cisco, or the 26 billion that Gartner predicts, it is certain that our buildings, factories, data centres, cities and even vineyards will be deploying more and more data-intensive applications.

Currently, much of this data is stored off-site in large complexes in remote areas. These data centres contain big data, but sometimes it is necessary or useful to have this data in the neighbourhood of the connected object to avoid excessive latency (an important factor for critical infrastructures) and to optimise resources. This data can be later uploaded to the cloud to be analysed and processed.

Applications in which response times are critical, coupled with the need to adjust costs, are encouraging IOT systems to become closer to the user and the data source. This phenomenon is known as edge computing.

Connected data allows us to optimise the processes in our factories, improve our city traffic, increase our field’s productivity, reduce electricity consumption and, in many cases, like in the maintenance of machines and data centres, anticipate possible failures. This data is able to predict the future and improve people’s quality of life.

Vineyard example

In a vineyard, grapes have a complex process of growth if you truly want a wine with character. In the past, growers estimated the fallen rain, the hours of sun the strains had received, the temperature ... and looking at the strains and grapes, they could estimate the amount of water and fertiliser to use. 

Today, they can install sensors and programs that help them take the decision. They can also decide how much data they need to keep for the future, how often they need data to be taken, and in some cases, they will choose to have everything, hour by hour; in others, a fortnightly summary may be sufficient.

The IT infrastructure is evolving alongside these new profitability, flexibility and speed needs demanded by the fourth industrial revolution. In vineyards, we are betting on the installation of data centres directly in a prefabricated container for a modular solution that covers all the data processing needs in a few hours.

Industry needs on-site connectivity

If we focus on industry cases, connectivity between IT and OT (information technology and operational technology) is critical to ensure future competitiveness because of the increasing pressure on flexibility, productivity and cost reduction. This convergence requires bringing the data process as close as possible to the point where data is generated and consumed, especially in highly flexible, competitive environments in which smart information management is critical.

In the case of factories, in addition to the large data centres they may have at a global level, the tendency is to provide the plants with their own small processing centres that can control the critical information locally, and at the same time transfer information to your corporate cloud for more advanced analytical projections.

Aiding AI

In some countries, residential buildings already have some small data centres that process the information of different intelligent devices, such as the lift, the heating system and video cameras that allow residents to enjoy a safer, more comfortable, and sustainable home.

It is possible to imagine that in the near future, the systems in our industries and data centres and machines will be able to learn from their environment and take decisions that will improve their functioning. It is possible to imagine, also, that artificial intelligence (AI) will end up being more regular. This leap will have been driven by edge computing and a decentralised IT infrastructure. 

Schneider Electric

At Schneider, we believe access to energy and digital is a basic human right. We empower all to make the most of their energy and resources, ensuring Life Is On everywhere, for everyone, at every moment.

We provide energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability. We combine world-leading energy technologies, real-time automation, software and services into integrated solutions for Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries.

We are committed to unleash the infinite possibilities of an open, global, innovative community that is passionate about our Meaningful Purpose, Inclusive and Empowered values.

For more information, go to www.se.com/za

Editorial contacts
Marketing Business Partner Sli Dumakude (+27) 11 254 6400 sli.dumakude@se.com
Litha Communications (+27) 11 484 7663 litha@lithacommunications.co.za
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