Find out how processing data nearer its source offers multiple advantages that are sustainable and also useful for improving sustainability.

When organizations move workloads to the network edge, the goal is about facilitating the analysis  data as quickly as possible. Doing so requires putting computing, networking and storage capabilities as close as possible to the endpoints that generate data.

Although a whole host of challenges face expansion to edge computing, the benefits should be well worth the effort. 

With all this promise comes the need for additional energy consumption from existing IT infrastructures. However, organizations can leverage the increased operational efficiencies of the edge to complement sustainability efforts. How? 

Monitoring network traffic at the source

In recent years, telehealth consultations have become the new norm since the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with increased digitalization, the risks of data leaks and breaches have also shot up.

Typically, in organizations that employ traditional and legacy infrastructure, most data that is generated is sent back to a centralized data center for storage and analysis. Protecting that data en route is challenging, and many organizations, including some healthcare firms, lack the sophisticated cybersecurity tools to do so.

Lee Siew Keong
Lee Siew Keong, Head of Secure Power Division (Singapore), Schneider Electric

With edge computing security solutions, healthcare organizations can analyze the data where it is generated, to facilitate quicker mitigation of security threats.

Remote analysis for better network use

Another example: similar to hospital settings, individual pieces of machinery (such as oil and gas drills or factory equipment) generate crucial data. Transmitting that information back and forth to centralized data center is taxing to the network. 

With additional bandwidth needs data-transfer costs can balloon. The time it takes to send information between locations can also comprise network latency. In situations where real-time analysis is paramount, any latency can negatively impact operations. Furthermore, unplanned downtime at data center or cloud connections can exacerbate both bandwidth and latency issues. 

With edge computing, by capturing information where it is generated — organizations can mitigate these concerns. Analyzing data at the source limits the amount of information sent back to centralized stores, reducing network usage. Analyzing data locally and not repeatedly sending information back and forth across the network, can circumvent latency issues. Also, even if other parts of the network suffer outages, assets running at the edge can still operate and generate data. 

Improved energy usage, greater sustainability

Organizations that invest in edge technology will enjoy security and network-usage improvements. Businesses can also reap the rewards of a third major edge benefit: sustainability. 

Lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation and asset operation all require reliable power, often around the clock. Cooling alone accounts for around 40% of total data center energy consumption. Transporting data from endpoints to a centralized data center also consumes energy. 

With edge technology, sensors and software in network operations centers allow organizations to easily monitor and control energy consumption across all remote sites. The real-time information about building efficiency can then be used to improve energy usage continually.

Optimal use of smart building tools is not possible without the edge. Such practices are not only good to have in practice but are progressively becoming expected of the industry for the urgent need to meet net zero goals. 

A constantly improving edge

As more enterprises move quickly to distributed IT environments, edge computing technology should also improve in pace, creating additional efficiencies.  As more-effective operations also lead to reduced costs, improved profitability, better employee safety and an enhanced customer experience, organizations investing in edge computing will be able to enjoy business as well as social-environmental benefits as well.