As we’ve discussed all season on Utilizing Edge, innovation is coming from all directions, including hardware, software, and applications. This special crossover episode of the On-Premise IT and Utilizing Tech podcasts features Edge Field Day delegates Brian Knudtson, Ned Bellavance, and Jody Lemoine discussing their perspectives about edge innovation with Stephen Foskett. The primary drivers at the edge are integration, efficiency, and connectivity, as well as the unique needs of the applications there. Starting with hardware, customers are headed in two directions, with more enterprise availability features deployed in some locations and less-capable hardware in others, both in terms of compute and networking. At the software level, most edge infrastructure is hyper-converged, meaning that multiple layers of the stack are integrated in software and managed as one. Although intended as an application platform, Kubernetes is being deployed as a packaging abstraction and distribution solution at the edge.
Edge is leading the hardware industry into a new era of innovation. In this episode of Utilizing Tech, Stephen Foskett, and co-hosts, Allyson Klein and Alistair Cooke, sit down to dissect this. In the wake of Intel’s discontinuation of its NUC product line, a question that is in everyone’s mind is, what’s next. Intel, and many behemoths like it, have a proud legacy of knowing how to break a stalemate and preserve the churn, and even if that means stepping up and pulling the plug on an old product. It oxygenates the marketplace, welcoming new solutions and keeping the wheel of innovation moving. In the context of the emerging paradigm of edge, this change will likely propel the market towards a new breed of powerful, low-cost, pocket-size hardware that delivers breakthrough energy-efficiency and compute performance with little infrastructure.
Personal devices are increasingly being used across enterprise IT, from smartphones to wearable devices, and these are becoming the true edge. This episode of Utilizing Edge brings Field Day delegates Mark Houtz and Jim Czuprynski together with Stephen Foskett to discuss the personal side of the edge. Mobile Device Management (MDM) has been used to manage smartphones and similar technology is used for personal computers, but it seems inevitable that there will be a mixing of business and private data. The mix and match of personal devices at the edge is sure to be a topic of future focus.
Although blockchain technology has been tainted by scammers, the core idea of distributed consensus is relevant for certain edge applications. This episode of Utilizing Edge focuses on practical application of blockchain technology in edge and IoT, featuring Jason Benedicic, Alastair Cooke, and Stephen Foskett. Two key concepts in blockchain are the distributed ledger and consensus approach. There is a lot of work being done to apply blockchain in medical, finance, IoT, and proof of provenance. Although many applications can rely on authority or quorum, larger and more heterogeneous applications might benefit from consensus instead. The other aspect of blockchain, chain of custody and immutability of data, is potentially relevant in preventing supply chain attacks and dealing with transient devices. It’s important to remember that many of the things that have put people off blockchain, from financialization to public exposure of transactions, are not necessarily required in all blockchains.
VMware Explore 2023 featured a broad set of products and technologies, all of which could be included under the banner of edge. This episode of Utilizing Edge considers this dynamic and varied world with Roy Chua and Brian Knudtson, along with host Stephen Foskett. Virtualization, networking, storage, and orchestration are all key edge technologies, and VMware and its partners are deeply involved in bringing these technologies to the edge. VMware announced Edge Cloud Orchestrator, new security capabilities, integrated networking, client integration, and the exciting potential of private 5G networks. Dive into this episode to unravel the complexities and promising future of edge computing.
Industrial control and operational technology systems face the same forces as IT applications and are rapidly being integrated into comprehensive edge infrastructure. This episode of Utilizing Edge brings Andy Foster of IOTech to discuss standardization of industrial IoT with Allyson Klein and Stephen Foskett. There are many more similarities between industrial control systems and information technology systems than many people realize. Both are impacted by standards in commodity hardware, networking and communications protocols, and cloud integration. And OT and IT are colliding at the edge, with a massive opportunity to leverage data.
Although everyone wants high availability from IT systems, the cost to achieve it must be weighed against the benefits. This episode of Utilizing Edge focuses on HA solutions at the edge with Bruce Kornfeld of StorMagic, Alastair Cooke, and Stephen Foskett. Although it might be tempting to build the same infrastructure at the edge as in the data center, but this can get very expensive. Thinking about multi-node server clusters and RAID storage, the risk of a so-called split brain means not just two nodes but three must be deployed in most cases. StorMagic addresses this issue in a novel way, with a remote node providing a quorum witness and reducing the need for on-site hardware. Edge infrastructure also relies on so-called hyperconverged systems, which use software to create advanced services on simple and inexpensive hardware.
One of the main differentiators for edge computing is developing a scalable architecture that works everywhere, from deployment to support to updates. This episode of Utilizing Edge welcomes Dave Demlow of Scale Computing discussing the need for scalable architecture at the edge. Scale Computing discussed Zero-Touch Provisioning and Disposable Units of Compute at their Edge Field Day presentation, and we kick off the discussion with these concepts. We also consider the undifferentiated heavy lifting of cloud infrastructure and the tools for infrastructure as code and patch management in this different environment. Ultimately the differentiator is scale, and the key challenge for designing infrastructure for the edge is making sure it can be deployed and supported at hundreds or thousands of sites.
There is a long-standing gulf between developers and operations, let alone infrastructure, and this is made worse by the scale and limitations of edge computing. This episode of Utilizing Edge features Carl Moberg of Avassa discussing the application-first mindset of developers with Brian Chambers and Stephen Foskett. As we’ve been discussing, it’s critical to standardize infrastructure to make them supportable at the edge, yet we also must make platforms that are attractive to application owners.
Edge has many different stakeholders, applications, and needs, and this is especially true in distributed retail environments. This episode of Utilizing Edge features Simon Gamble of Mako Networks talking with Brian Chambers and Stephen Foskett about the complexities of technology at the retail edge. The key according to Gamble is segmentation of brands, franchisees, and technical applications. In some cases a single location might even include multiple separate companies or tenants under the same roof. Video, sensors, IoT, and location-based services are coming to retail locations as well, and some of these leverage outside service providers as well. Although sharing infrastructure is desirable, segmentation and security is key. Retail edge environments are increasingly complicated, but there are many ways to consolidate, converge, and standardize to make them practical to implement.