When it comes to edge computing, every use case is unique. Indeed, that makes computing at the edge both so compelling and challenging. From the ability to operate and maintain critical IT systems on a container ship in the middle of the ocean to the operational challenges of deploying an edge infrastructure on a bustling manufacturing floor, every edge deployment will need to consider the specific constraints of their environment carefully. Does your site have persistent Internet connectivity? Are enough trained IT administrators on hand to troubleshoot issues when they arise? What about power and cooling requirements?
Yet despite the wide array of edge use cases and scenarios, some key characteristics are common to every successful edge solution. Specifically, Scale Computing customers and partners have itemized four specific qualities that they consider foundational to creating a seamless edge experience. Just as every automobile needs all four wheels to work together to ensure a smooth and stable ride, every mature edge solution will likewise require the presence and balancing of the following four attributes:
1. SCALABILITY: How easily and quickly can an edge solution be scaled up or down?
While hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) systems and their underlying hypervisors have improved significantly over the years, scalability issues continue to slow down resource-strapped IT teams – particularly as it relates to how it manages the distributed storage layer and cluster management tools. How easily can an edge solution handle increased data volumes and processing demands as the number of connected devices and applications grows? How quickly can new resources be added to the system or removed without disrupting existing site operations?
A truly scalable edge solution should allow IT teams to rapidly consolidate resources into larger pools, so they can be managed more cohesively and scaled out as needed. Such an approach not only minimizes single points of failure, it also serves to enhance infrastructure availability and overall system performance.
SC//HyperCore dramatically simplifies the process of scaling storage and compute resources. New and different nodes can be seamlessly integrated by simply assigning them a network address to add them to a cluster. Moreover, SC//HyperCore offers the option to configure nodes solely for storage purposes, eliminating the need and expense of running separate VMs. The scalability of SC//HyperCore becomes most evident when operating single-node systems on compact systems such as the popular Intel® NUCs since an identical software stack can operate on both these smaller devices and on large, robust data center clusters with equal efficiency.
2. FLEXIBILITY: How easily can an edge solution adapt to changing business and technology requirements?
Edge environments are constantly in flux due to the addition or removal of devices and applications, evolving user requirements, and shifting workloads. An adaptable edge computing system can accommodate these changes without requiring significant modifications or causing disruptions to existing processes. The more flexible an edge solution is, the easier it will be to integrate with other existing systems. And since most enterprises run a mix of legacy systems, IoT devices, and other applications, the ability to easily integrate with existing components means users can respond more quickly to the business without allocating additional resources or budget.
SC//Platform allows customers to mix and match hardware of different sizes, product families and generations. Even customers who purchased the first edition of SC//Platform a decade ago are able to quickly upgrade their existing cluster with new and faster nodes. The flexibility around seamlessly supporting both legacy and next-generation workloads on the same platform is something that might be important to your organization. Moreover, SC//Platform is purpose built to simultaneously support both legacy VM-based applications and next-generation containerized applications. This gives IT teams the freedom to modernize their edge infrastructure while continuing to support the existing applications that are not ready to be replaced or re-architected. The built-in flexibility of the SC//Platform means that customers can reduce their CapEx spending as they only buy what is needed at the time, versus having to predict their future compute and storage needs.
3. EFFICIENCY: Can the edge system fully optimize available resources?
Because edge computing systems are often deployed in environments with limited resources, such as processing power, storage, and network bandwidth, the efficient utilization of these resources is needed to ensure that the system can effectively handle workloads and meet performance requirements without causing operational disruptions. A highly efficient edge solution should be able to manage and optimize nodes of different types and sizes, integrate with a mix of hardware of different generations and vendors, and leverage advanced load balancing mechanisms for I/O operations. In addition, the ability to efficiently integrate external storage systems or expose resources via block, file, or object interfaces with the rest of your infrastructure can improve the ROI of your HCI infrastructure by lowering upfront costs while simplifying its adoption in heterogeneous environments.
Efficiency is at the heart of the SC//Platform. The SCRIBE storage layer was purpose-built to be consumed by our KVM-based hypervisor. It allows workloads – whether running in VMs or containers – to access resilient, block storage without any overhead from a virtual controller in the data path. This approach has the benefit of higher performance levels, but also allows SC//HyperCore to run on smaller, edge-ready form factors that are often required outside of a primary data center.
4. INTEROPERABILITY: How robust is the vendor’s partner and solution ecosystem?
The HCI stack represents just one piece of the larger IT infrastructure puzzle. As the scale and scope of edge computing use cases grow and evolve, no single vendor can provide best-in-class technology capabilities across the entire spectrum of edge computing requirements. That’s why it’s essential for an edge provider to not only demonstrate they have the right partners in place, but to confirm that their systems also have easy-to-use APIs that can connect to these critical third-party solutions. In addition, it’s also important to understand whether or not an edge provider maintains a professional services organization, which can provide value to SMBs who might have limited IT resources on hand, and to enterprise customers who operate numerous distributed locations.
Scale Computing has invested heavily in our partner ecosystem, whose solutions provide fully integrated or complementary offerings to SC//Platform, including backup, archiving, cloud services, encryption, cyber protection, VDI integration, and video surveillance. Our rapidly expanding roster of partners across the globe includes technical partners such as Intel, IBM, Wasabi, Leostream, Parallels, APC Schneider, Acronis, Milestone, and Nasuni, as well as OEM partnerships like Lenovo, NEC, and Fujitsu.
Edge computing presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities, with each use case requiring careful consideration of the specific environment and its constraints. By evaluating potential solutions against these criteria, organizations can ensure they are investing in a platform that meets their unique needs while providing a seamless and scalable edge experience. To learn more about how Scale Computing and how SC//Platform will work into you budget, please visit our pricing page and build yourself a quote.