Friday, 7th August 2020

The impact of coronavirus on enterprise adoption of 5G and edge computing

By James Bristow, SVP EMEA, Cradlepoint.

In his first address to the nation following his recovery from COVID-19, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asserted that for now, the country needs to remain in lockdown to continue fighting the spread of the virus. It’s becoming increasingly clear that businesses should not assume things will go back to the way they were and should instead be looking for ways to adjust to a post-COVID global commercial and economic landscape.

One change that will be particularly important for enterprises to adapt to is the need to do more with less, and not necessarily by cutting back and scaling down. In other words, success in today’s landscape will be determined by the solutions that help businesses work much more efficiently, either by freeing up resources internally or by supplying a wider range of customers with a faster and more reliable range of services. Here, we take a look at how one solution can make a real difference – edge computing.

The enterprise benefits of edge computing

Edge computing co-locates computing, storage, and networking functions closer to where the data originates. This reduces the amount of data being sent back and forth between devices and the cloud, saving time and power, conserving bandwidth, and reducing latency.

Edge computing also provides rapid and cost-effective scaling under a common infrastructure. Long-term cloud storage already runs at a high cost for enterprises, while real-time access storage can be nearly 10 times more expensive. No longer having to store data in the cloud is a huge cost savings for businesses.

Most importantly, the customer experience of the future will be run from the edge. For example, smart cities will use data processed at the edge to offer parking solutions that are tied to video cameras. This will enable them to identify open parking spaces by only transmitting meta data, instead of the whole video stream.

What are the adoption trends amongst enterprises?

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, both investment in and adoption of edge computing was on an upward trend amongst enterprises. In 2019, one Analysys Mason report found that enterprises will spend an average of 30 per cent on edge computing over the next three years, while a Gartner report predicted that three-quarters of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed at the edge by 2025.

Like most economic forecasts, these figures will probably be revised to reflect the impact of COVID-19. But given that flexibility, efficiency and lower costs have become the predominant characteristics of enterprise success in the era of coronavirus, it’s likely that these factors will drive adoption rates even further.

The role of 5G

Edge computing will underpin one of the major benefits of 5G: low latency. To achieve the goal of less than 10 millisecond latency, 5G networks must move processing power closer to the end user. With 5G networks popping up all over the world, edge computing is expected to help in reaching the requirements of 5G, as well as supporting businesses in the LTE pathway to 5G. But with compute functions moving from the datacentre to the WAN edge, enterprises must have the necessary tools to facilitate a paradigmatic shift in their IT infrastructure.

Predominantly, enterprises will need new edge router solutions that are provisioned, controlled and managed via cloud-based apps to unlock these advanced LTE capabilities and provide a gradual evolution to fully-fledged 5G services when and where available. This includes provisioning load balancing, supporting multiple levels of nodes for hierarchical networking and allowing for resource pooling & universal orchestration & management.

Final thoughts

It’s clear that increasing operational efficiency will be key for enterprises when facing the economic challenges of the future. Moreover, having the flexibility and agility to roll out new products and services to customers will continue to be the ingredients of success long after the current crisis ends. It’s therefore more important than ever for enterprises to realise the potential of 5G edge, not just to overcome barriers today, but to ensure continued success in the future.

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