Life On the Edge

Why Micro Data Centers Are the Next Frontier
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Originally Published in CRN, by Lindsey O’Donnell

Pittsburgh-based industrial solution provider GrayMatter has found massive opportunities for edge computing on manufacturing floors where customers may have mission-critical infrastructure that requires high reliability and can’t afford downtime.

“Edge is almost a continuum of possibilities, from servers with tons of edge computing power and storage, down to a really simple, not expensive, lower intelligence to just bridge the data up to the cloud—so it depends on how much latency you can handle in an application, how much local intelligence needs to go on,” said CEO Jim Gillespie. “For a manufacturing plant, it’s very important to close the loop locally, for other applications like lighting going up to the cloud, you don’t need as much at the edge.”

GrayMatter has a big role in working with customers to understand where the edge will really drive value and how that will impact business outcomes, according to Gillespie.

“It’s a conversation around the outcomes, so you really have to understand the right questions to ask and the right way to design a solution,” he said. “We would weigh in with the client and design something that meets the outcomes they’re looking for. Almost everything has edge computing, and then it depends where the analytics need to happen, and there’s some sort of connectivity or either local buffering or on ramp to the cloud.”

Looking ahead, edge computing will also open more opportunities for solution providers to deploy managed services, particularly as vendors create pre-packaged edge solutions making it easier for partners to bundle the storage, connectivity and computing features for edge solutions, said Scott Udell, vice president of IoT Solutions at Boston-based Cloud Technology Partners, an HPE company.

“I think you will see more and more plays and opportunities for the channel, especially as vendors focus more on pre-packaged [edge] solutions,” he said. “Partners will see opportunities around reselling those, rolling your own and building a management service, and that’s where a lot of IoT at the edge will play out.”

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