Hybrid cloud sets businesses on the path to the cloud edge

Martin Percival, solutions architect manager at Red Hat looks at the challenges and opportunities involved in implementing hybrid cloud solutions for

Cloud, Hybrid cloud, Red Hat

Quite rightly, there is much attention surrounding edge computing, with Gartner estimating over 50 percent of enterprise data will be created and processed at the edge within two years. When broken down, it is essentially a localised cloud infrastructure that can be delivered to specific locations and use cases – with businesses that have hybrid cloud strategies already moving towards the edge. Should strategies be based on an open framework, they will have the freedom to select the best third-party resources available to underpin their cloud edge proposition. In the absence of a standard cloud edge computing model, large enterprises are now seeking guidance in the right direction.

Reaching the edge

Manufacturing, automotive, retail and healthcare are among the first movers, and delivering ultra-low latency applications and services is crucial to businesses with physical supply chains and production lines that provide tens of thousands of sensors and connected devices. This number will rise exponentially, ensuring cloud edge becomes integral to every IT and cloud network. The cloud edge is sporadic in nature, serving different use cases, scenarios and peaks in demand. It must be robust, scalable, smart, efficient, and integrated with existing cloud infrastructure to become a strategic asset – precisely why businesses already managing multiple environments based on a hybrid cloud strategy are well placed to succeed. Distributed cloud architecture enables businesses to extend their capabilities out towards the cloud edge. They can do this gradually, continually testing the resilience and reliability of their new cloud edge function to build applications and run them across their distributed cloud infrastructure and specific virtual or geographic locations.

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The container effect

It would be almost impossible to achieve cloud edge computing scale and reach without containers, which are smaller than virtual machines. Dozens can fit in spaces that could only facilitate one or two virtual machines, and they can fluctuate between different points and deliver specific functionality at the cloud edge – allowing businesses to scale their edge capabilities, manage more sensors and devices, and accommodate new use cases. A container-based architecture facilitates an integrated and centralised management system, empowering businesses to have complete visibility across their cloud edge properties and orchestrate, provide and secure applications.

Insights at the edge

Integrating the cloud edge with central business systems and data analysis tools is also advantageous. Development and IT operations teams can run tests before rolling out container-based applications across a vast network of devices to manage connections. Smarter cloud edge will allow them to spot faults and minimise risks due to the mission critical nature of applications and services. With an insights engine, businesses can continuously collect and analyse acquired data that will eventually feed into predictive analytics through AI and machine learning that identifies unusual activity and notifies the correct channels.

The open framework

Developers, IT and network operations teams already immersed in hybrid cloud can help businesses realise their cloud edge ambitions and taking ownership of cloud edge migration helps improve and retain their IP. Lessons learned and knowledge gained will remain internal, providing businesses with a cloud edge template and design. Having an open framework for developing a cloud edge proposition brings several benefits. Besides gradually and methodically transitioning to the edge, developers can participate in open source projects and accelerate innovation to give businesses the freedom to partner with IT stack third parties that will help develop a fully rounded cloud edge solution. They can collaborate with the right communications service provider to support 5G capabilities, connect with cloud providers, and develop their own cloud edge roadmap.

Edging into the future

Although most cloud computing use cases drive IoT solutions, more can be delivered though applications for VR, media, entertainment, cloud gaming, and financial services companies to support trading. With an entirely new platform and environment, developers can create fresh applications and services built on a fluid and constantly evolving infrastructure. Doing so will support new business models and drive new categories and economies of scale.

The cloud edge path is set for businesses with a hybrid cloud strategy because they are already working with containers that have ideal cloud edge application architecture, while an open framework enables them to select the right partners from across the cloud and edge computing ecosystem that suit their technical and business requirements. Ultimately, a unified approach means they can build a cloud edge that is firmly rooted in their own enterprise IT and cloud infrastructure.

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