Sometimes, it seems that the emergence and expansion of Edge computing are like watching an endless expanse of ocean on a beach. You cannot see beyond the horizon and let you know that the waves travel quite far. Do these waves touch, security, environmental impact, 5G’s success, and the promise of HaaS? Let’s use the binoculars of Sachin Bhalla, VP, Secure Power, and Country GM, Schneider Electric India & SAARC, and find out.
DQ: Is security an over-hyped nightmare with Edge computing or is it a ground reality?
Sachin Bhalla: Despite the various issues initiated by Covid-19, Edge computing is gaining immense precedence and significantly bolstering the developments witnessed in 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). Edge computing is expected to increase by 37.4 percent by 2027 making $43.4 billion. The security issues concerning Edge computing are complex and have the potential to cause roadblocks in its growth. Organizations are continuously looking at power and cooling systems, racks, UPSs, to collect performance and operational data and mitigate the security risks that emerge in operating these networks and mechanisms. The issue arises at an inappropriate time, as companies continue to build data centers, including Edge data centers, to accommodate IoT, digital transformation, and other efforts that are driving the need for more computing power. Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT Expert works towards infusing the void with a new security assessment offering. This bolsters data center operations with increased security and decimates inadequacies that might compromise vulnerable data.
DQ: How can the sprawl and scale of Edge footprints be balanced with the needs of data control and integrity?
Sachin Bhalla: Edge computing has undoubtedly become the greatest need of the hour and has been defined as the future of computing. Gartner proposes that, by 2025, around 70-75 percent of computing will happen at the Edge. The challenge here remains that these Edge sites are at un-manned sites, hence sites without IT service personnel, sites with harsh conditions and they also bring Edge Computing risks. This is where Micro Data Centers play important role in providing standardized, robust, and secured infrastructure to house key critical IT equipment.
By deploying the power of edge computing, we can reduce the amount of useless and wasteful data traversing to and from the cloud as much as possible, thus, reducing overall energy requirements in the long term.
MicroData Centers are not just IT racks bundled with UPS and batteries, but instead are fully integrated DC solutions with all-encompassing critical components of physical security access control, fire alarm, along, remote infrastructure management. We have a range of MDC solutions starting from as low footprints of 6U Wall Mount to 43U Floor Mount, and Rows andPre-Fabricated Container-based solutions that cater to every customer need.
DQ: What barriers hold mass deployment of Edge computing in India? What can we learn from the right moves/gaps faced in other regions?
Sachin Bhalla: According to the new Worldwide Edge spending guide by IDC, the global Edge Computing market will be at $250.6 by 2024. Several industries are adopting edge computing and traditional enterprises are also moving towards the same. There are barriers that prevent the mass deployment of Edge computing in India. The most common ones are costs, security, and power.
Edge computing focuses on three major factors that align with our common goal of sustainability: Bandwidth, latency and congestion.
DQ: How? Please explain.
Sachin Bhalla: Edge computing is an expensive affair. From configuration to deployment and then leading on to the maintenance aspect, edge frameworks and networks entail a massive expense. Then security concerns have constantly presented a threat to Edge computing. This needs a considerable amount of resources to be invested in making the equipment ready for any external attacks. Businesses investing in edge computing need high-voltage, three-phase electricity, which at times can be a difficult proposition, especially in a country like India.
DQ: What implications does Edge computing have in the space of energy management? How disruptive would it be?
Sachin Bhalla: One of the key challenges today pertains to reducing energy consumption to control and further lower the increased carbon-emission levels. The increasing amount of data consumption is putting a lot of load on data centers and increasing the demand for edge data centers. Hyper data centers serve thousands of users at a given time, but many times these are not optimized.
Edge data centers—on the other hand—consume less energy for cooling in comparison to their output and size. Edge computing helps in tracking and monitoring energy usage in real-time and visualizing the same through dashboards. This helps enterprises to manage their energy consumption and implement preventative measures for energy usage.
DQ: Do we have any concrete examples or metrics of how Edge computing and automation have helped the goal of sustainability?
Sachin Bhalla: Edge computing focuses on three major factors that align with our common goal of sustainability. These include bandwidth, latency, and congestion. Large data centers are known to produce increased carbon emissions, electric and electronic waste. The share of global electricity used by data centers is estimated to be around one to three percent and data centers generate two percent of worldwide CO2 emissions, which is at par with the aviation industry. Therefore, being cognizant of this, the growth forecasts for digitization and IoT present concerns.
The steady increase in data processing, storage, and traffic in the future comes with a huge electricity demand for this industry. In fact, estimations expect the communications industry to use 20 percent of all the world’s electricity by 2025. Moving towards the utilization of green energy is a good step. However, a more effective, and ultimately longer-term, the solution requires looking at the current model of data storage, filtering, processing, and transferal.
With 5G rollouts being initiated, a ripple effect is likely to take place regarding the existing infrastructure, networks and investments.
DQ: Can Hardware-as-a-Service really redefine costs, capital, complexity, and control the way SaaS did for many enterprises? What has been your experience so far, what’s the roadmap here?
Sachin Bhalla: This is an interesting aspect as we are working with a few key customers to move from CapEx-based models towards OpEx based models. OpEx based models provide complete solutions through Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or what is increasingly being defined as Hardware as a Service (HaaS).
We are empowering our partners to work towards this.HaaS is in our roadmap and we are navigating our way through these solutions. However, we are at an early stage and we will consistently monitor the progress that we are making with this and then accordingly decide its future actions.
DQ: Do you see local Edge data centers replacing your traditional market offerings? What is your game plan for this emerging market?
Sachin Bhalla: Local Edge data centers will complement the traditional market. We are currently witnessing how IT computing has moved from one phase to another over the past four decades. It has developed from mainframe to distributed computing and then progressed to client-server. From there on, it ventured to cloud computing, and now we are at a juncture where Edge computing is gaining momentum. Edge computing provides on-demand computing solutions to applications for enhanced and uninterrupted user experience. This is supported by the cloud as the cloud powers big data and data engineering to make more informed decisions so that there is an interplay of technologies. With the increasing capacity of computing and technological solutions ramping up, the penetration of IoT devices will grow ten-fold in the future.
DQ: Any observations on the intersection of 5G and Edge computing—especially in the Indian context?
Sachin Bhalla: 5G and Edge computing are two technologies that have been integrated and linked together since the outset. These disruptive resources are poised to improve operational performance as well as the optimization of applications and enable huge amounts of data to be processed in real-time.
5G and Edge computing technologies haven’t completely penetrated the Indian market. Our data usage needs to keep increasing as more and more people step into the digital world. Thus, both these technologies will become a necessity as we envision and move towards a digital future. The intermingling of these technologies will create an endless number of opportunities for individuals and enterprises at large. This will also help brands to better serve their customers. With increased speed and security, enterprises will be able to work faster.
With 5G rollouts being initiated in the country, a ripple effect is likely to take place with regard to the existing infrastructure, networks, and investments, especially with their permeation in data centers. Networks will have to be restructured and upgraded, existing technologies such as networks functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) will have to be utilized to their complete potential to empower greater performance.
Sachin Bhalla, VP, Secure Power, and Country GM,
Schneider Electric India & SAARC
By Pratima Harigunani