Computing strategies have evolved significantly over the decades. As more enterprises push the envelope of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, deploy sophisticated devices, and expand the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing is becoming more popular, primarily because it dramatically reduces latency. Gartner projects that by 2025, 75 percent of enterprise data processing will occur at the edge because of the performance advantages.
At the same time, cloud adoption remains a strong trend, and the pandemic accelerated it. One Gartner analyst called COVID-19 a “multiplier” for CIO interest in the cloud. There’s a strong business case for moving computing resources to the cloud, which converts associated costs from a capital expense model to an operating expense. Companies that operate in the cloud don’t have to purchase storage and computing resources, and they can scale up and down easily.
Now there’s an emerging option that could shift computing strategies again in the coming years. Many organizations find that combining edge and cloud computing into a hybrid strategy delivers the best of both worlds. Here’s a brief overview of four ways a hybrid computing strategy can give your organization a competitive edge.
1. Better performance
A hybrid environment with edge computing capabilities brings computing resources closer to where they are needed by users, IoT devices, etc., which can dramatically improve performance.
[ Also read Hybrid cloud: 5 ways it can improve the customer experience. ]
Response time matters – if Website A users encounter a five to eight-second delay and competitor Website B loads in a fraction of a second, the latter organization has a clear competitive advantage. Also, moving compute resources to the edge will be critical for many applications, including autonomous vehicles, where near-instantaneous response times are a must.
2. Faster time to market
By leveraging cloud computing power in a hybrid strategy, enterprises can get products to market quicker. They can rent computing resources when needed through the cloud, which allows them to scale up and down according to demand.
In today’s economy, flexibility is incredibly important because companies are accelerating go-to-market strategies to beat competitors. Access to easily scalable cloud resources drastically cuts the time required to deploy new products.
When taking on projects that require significant additional computing power, such as deploying a new app, CIOs with a hybrid strategy don’t have to estimate current demand, factor in growth, and then purchase hardware and pay for external or internal resources to deploy the new equipment. Instead, they can pay for what they need only when they need it. This results in potential cost savings. If the organization works with a managed services company or cloud provider who delivers services, it can free the internal technology team to focus on other tasks.
4. Superior support for a distributed workforce
The pandemic demonstrated that many jobs can be done productively from anywhere. While some businesses are returning most or all their employees to the office, job candidates demand more flexibility, and many employers offer remote and hybrid working arrangements. An edge computing strategy can improve performance for an on-premises workforce, but a hybrid approach incorporating cloud computing delivers better support for distributed workforces.
Edge and cloud computing options each have their unique advantages, and the ideal solution for your team will depend on factors that are pertinent to your industry and organization. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully and to be mindful of the implications for issues like data security and regulatory compliance, which can vary considerably by industry and the operations you support.
CIOs who haven’t been involved in a hybrid computing strategy implementation before may want to consider working with a consultant or managed services provider who has experience with a project of this type. Someone who has handled similar implementations can provide insight and advice to help you realize the full benefits and avoid pitfalls.
Remember that a hybrid strategy can allow your organization to achieve performance levels that drive innovation and attract and retain customers while bringing products to market more quickly, conserving resources, and adapting to changing workforce needs. For these reasons, it’s worth considering if a hybrid computing strategy would meet your organization’s needs – and give your company an advantage over competitors.
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