If your data isn’t living on the edge it should be

By Marius Maritz, Operations Manager at DMP SA

The end-user experience is critical when it comes to data access. From online shopping to banking and insurance, dealing with any sort of call centre or even buying groceries, nobody wants to be held hostage by slow systems. It is imperative that end-point or edge devices can access data quickly to prevent these frustrating delays, no matter what the situation. You need your critical data to be ‘living on the edge’ to speed up data processing and ensure instant access to essential information.

Cloud computing has become a de facto standard for at least some aspects of almost every business. However, the challenge with the cloud is that accessing data can be slow, which means that processing of information may be subject to delays. We have all experienced situations where this is the case. Take for example a phone call with your insurance company and being placed on hold because ‘the system is slow’, or waiting endlessly for any sort of application as the person assisting you is unable to access the data they require.

The answer to this challenge is to ensure that your data, or at least mission critical information, is ‘living on the edge’. Edge computing is the decentralisation of computing power and moving of data processing closer to the end-point device, user or customer. Instead of having to transmit data to a data centre for processing and then returning it to the device, it can be processed either by the device itself or by a local server. This enables data to be processed in real-time without latency. Ultimately what this translates to is that you are empowered to process your critical data in a fraction of the time that it would to retrieve data from the cloud, avoiding the dreaded ‘system is slow’ scenario. It also ensures that productivity can be maintained and that end users as well as customers have the best experience possible.

Local data storage keeps data close to the end user, however, this is typically costly to achieve for all of an organisation’s information. By keeping only critical data at the edge and the majority of your data in the cloud, edge computing gives your business the best of both worlds. It combines instant access to essential information while allowing businesses to leverage the economies and powerful analytics of the cloud. Edge data can then also be synchronised back to the cloud for secure storage and further processing without affecting the user experience.

Edge computing can also be beneficial when it comes to unplanned downtime or even planned maintenance. For example, if internet connectivity is lost temporarily, access to the cloud will not be possible. In these instances, having critical data on the edge ensures businesses can continue to operate, at least for short periods, until services can be resumed. Having instant access to data is essential for both productivity and customer service, which ultimately impacts your bottom line

When looking to implement edge computing, storage requirements need to be carefully considered. Local storage is necessary for processing at the edge, which then needs to be synchronised with cloud storage, to ensure the benefits of instant access can be combined with the cost benefit of the cloud. The amount of local storage required depends on the amount of mission critical data that needs to be processed at the edge.

Determining this requires that you initially need to understand your data, what you have and where it resides as well as what is considered mission critical. Data management is therefore an essential prerequisite for implementing edge computing. A data management partner can assist with the entire process to ensure that you obtain the optimal balance of onsite edge and cloud storage for maximum speed, power and economy.

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