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4 Steps to Build & Operate IoT Solution in Edge Cloud

Let's start with a primer on edge cloud. Edge cloud is the extension of cloud capabilities closer to the physical systems generating data. To understand why it is important, let's look at a few data points. 50 billion connected IoT devices generating 80 ZB data daily will be a reality in a few years. The round trip cloud latency will be at best one fourth of a second given the overwhelming number of variables affecting latency. IoT is already responsible for one third of cyber threats worldwide.  The data points surface four fundamental concerns in IoT landscape -

  • How can I keep my mission critical operations not impacted by latency variation?
  • How can I take out bandwidth cost?
  • How much autonomy will I have on my devices and data?
  • How can I keep my environment secured when it is tethered to the cloud?

Building and operating IoT solution leveraging edge cloud is the answer for all of them. Four steps to build and operate IoT in the edge cloud are - Create Edge Governance for IoT, Select Edge Location for IoT, Build Edge Centric IoT Architecture and Transform existing operations to IoT Edge Operations. They are intertwined and influence each other.

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Step 1: Create Edge Governance for IoT: It is the most critical factor as it ties together multiple thread around security, devices and data. Edge cloud is a mesh of different types of device, network and protocol. A comprehensive security policy covering all aspects of device and data is the most important part. Device governance with policies for device management and device onboarding is the bedrock for managing agile edge software lifecycle. Data governance plays a central role from compliance perspective. 

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Step 2: Select Edge Location for IoT: Edge cloud is topology driven. The strategy should aim to have right data at right place at right time. Edge location has many names to it such as near edge, far edge, network edge, enterprise edge etc. However, all boil down to the IoT use case characterization that decides the best fit hosting location in a distributed way. 

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Step 3: Build Edge Centric IoT Architecture: It is driven by strategic alignment towards choice of infrastructure and choice of technology. Infrastructure is available at various sizes from micro to macro level. Technology must be aligned with key considerations such as edge-native approach. Edge solution is primarily built upon the interaction among business, things and people. The design must include the people experience and business experience as well..

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Step 4: Transform to IoT Edge Operations: Operations at edge is a challenging task when it comes down to DevOps, observability, reliability, security and scaling. Edge devops needs to handle complexities arising from different capability sets of devices in the fleet and aligning them into a holistic continuous integration pipeline. Siloed observability for each edge component can be consolidated by channeling monitoring telemetry to cloud. Edge needs horizontal scaling. A repeatable recipe for new devices, new sites is important.

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An edge cloud solution must be built on a resilient foundation layer touching upon all the above aspects. This foundation layer helps in quickly realizing the business values envisioned by the IoT strategy without worrying about the concerns of latency, bandwidth, security and autonomy.

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