By Arlene Nazareth
As the amount of connected “things” – vehicles, devices, equipment, sensors – proliferates, organizations continue looking for ways to securely harness the data those things generate. An entire ecosystem dedicated to collecting and analyzing that data has erupted, and it’s taking data infrastructures to the edge of their capabilities.
Edge computing represents vast opportunity for IT organizations if implemented well. Unfortunately, the data center infrastructure required to host edge computing implementations is a patchwork affair. Today, organizations must leverage centralized data warehouses, regional edge data centers and local edge micro data centers.
With so many geographically dispersed locations without on-site IT staff and often limited in-house resources, many organizations are turning to managed services providers to help deploy, monitor, and maintain their edge data centers. Still others, such as existing managed service providers and IT solutions providers, are expanding their services portfolio to help clients with the edge. This represents a vast opportunity for IT solution providers.
Managed services providers enable customers to focus on core competencies
Edge locations need the same resilience, security, and fault tolerance as centralized locations, especially as they support more and more mission-critical applications. Managed service providers with the right capabilities offer peace of mind and operational efficiencies for edge deployments.
Ensuring the necessary resilience and availability at the edge is not a simple matter.
It requires having at least two major capabilities in place: That is, Remote monitoring and management of UPS and physical infrastructure and Data collection and analytics from monitoring equipment. This data improves the reliability and cost effectiveness of assets at the edge.
These highly specific capabilities are not core competencies of most companies. They don’t even cover all the expertise and manpower necessary to maintain support infrastructure. Turning to a managed services provider places the responsibility for infrastructure uptime into the hands of experts so customers can in turn focus on the core of their business.
An increased need for managed services also represents opportunity for existing providers. For example, power protection at the edge is not something many end customers consider. But an unmanned edge computing deployment without power is just another cost center. For existing services providers, adding power monitoring and protection to their portfolio of offerings invites additional recurring revenue streams.
The story is the same for monitoring and dispatch services. When physical infrastructure in remote locations goes down, those sites need immediate attention. Most organizations don’t have a full-time response staff for such incidents, opening the door managed services providers. Solutions and services providers can earn additional business by offering remote monitoring or dispatch services.
Managed services keep edge ecosystem running smoothly
A recent survey found that the impact of data center downtime has grown in severity, making the availability of data centers, at the core and at the edge, a key concern for organizations. Maintaining availability is challenging, given edge data centers experience more frequent total facility outages than their centralized counterparts. The primary methods companies leverage to improve edge availability – investing in improved equipment and redundant equipment – are not cost-effective ways of ensuring uptime.
It’s clear that the growing edge ecosystem represents a two-pronged opportunity for managed services. End customers can turn to managed services providers for cost-effective uptime of their edge deployments, and existing providers can work with partners to add new services to their portfolios.
Regardless of where companies fall in the spectrum of offered services, the first step is to cultivate true partnerships. A typical service provider contract lasts three years. Customers must feel at ease knowing that contract brings them the latest offerings, keeps equipment in optimal condition, and prepares them for uncertainties and surprises.
The edge is the present and future of infrastructure investments. Appropriate managed services can keep the ecosystem running smoothly for all parties involved and a trusted partnership with Schneider Electric helps managed partners support its customers digital transformation journey.
(Arlene Nazareth is the Distribution Sales Director, Schneider Electric).