As 2022 draws to a close, we thought it would be a good time to catch our collective breath, look at the year that’s been, and make some of our prognostications as to where the edge computing market is going in the year ahead. To compile this list, we canvassed our in-house experts and consulted with customers and partners about the trends they see shaping the edge marketplace in 2023.
#1. Maturing Edge Management & Orchestration will enable edge applications to be deployed at scale?
In last year’s Notes From the Edge – Is Edge Computing All Hype?, Gartner analyst Bob Gill writes: “the fact is, Edge Computing is actually being implemented today in many of our clients’ environments, generating revenue, saving money, improving safety and customer experience, and enabling entirely new applications and data models. Simply put, Edge has moved from concept and hype into successful vertical industry implementations, with general purpose platform status approaching rapidly.”
A year later, Gartner published its first Market Guide for Edge Computing which identifies ‘Edge Management & Orchestration’ (EMO) as the first of eight overlapping submarkets driving the edge computing marketplace. As Gartner analyst Tom Bittman notes, “edge computing nodes require remote monitoring and management of possibly thousands of end nodes, without relying on manual intervention or on-location skills.”
In other words, if you have computing resources scattered everywhere, how are you going to manage them in a scalable and efficient manner without throwing a ton of bodies at the problem? Or if you’re a business with hundreds of remote sites, deploying a new application can literally take years, so the ability to do this in a rapid and consistent manner across all of your locations promises to be a game changer. This is precisely the problem that the emerging EMO category is designed to address, and technologies like SC//Fleet Manager will be the connective tissue that binds all of these moving parts together so they can be deployed and managed in a holistic fashion.
#2. Cloud-Native Containers Become the Defacto Standard for New Applications
Containers continue to see widespread adoption as enterprises are deploying container-based applications virtually everywhere — from the data center to the cloud and increasingly out to the network edge. Because of their flexibility and portability, we expect to see container technology such as Kubernetes become the preferred vehicle for application deployment in 2023 and beyond.
Further supporting this broad adoption of containers is the rapid maturation of IT automation tools such as Ansible, one of the leading open-source platforms which can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments, rolling updates, and application configuration. By leveraging an open-source automation framework like Ansible, businesses can quickly deploy a VM with containers on the cloud, deploy virtual machines, or even set up the switches at an edge location before the gear shows up for zero-touch configuration.
Increasingly, we will see more edge applications collecting data from sensors, cameras, or other connected IoT devices, which will require the flexibility of containers to manage this data heavy load. The ability to monitor and manage all of these containers in a programmatic and cloud-like manner will become table stakes for the agile enterprise, especially by industries like manufacturing and retail who are investing heavily in data intensive inference-based applications.
To simplify edge container management we will continue to work with and grow our ecosystem of partners like Avassa and IBM Edge Application Manager to deliver complete full-stack solutions for edge environments.
#3. Novel Industry Edge Use Cases Emerge
The past year has seen significant momentum in how a range of vertical industries, from shipping and transportation to retail and manufacturing, are finding new ways to apply innovations at the edge to solve real business challenges. We expect that in the coming year, we will continue to see these and other industries identify innovative use cases that leverage their existing edge infrastructure to support new strategic initiatives.
Take the retail industry, where IP cameras have become ubiquitous. While most retailers deploy these video surveillance solutions for the purpose of loss prevention and physical security, a growing number of them will begin to leverage this trove of data to improve the customer experience and the efficiency of their operations with computer vision and machine learning.
Edge-enabled Computer Vision applications can unite customer traffic pattern data with real-time inventory data to ensure shoppers won’t encounter an empty shelf. Computer Vision can also overlay Point of Sale data into video feeds to provide store managers with the intelligence they need to improve how they merchandise their goods. Similarly, the same surveillance technology that’s used to identify shoplifters can be used to generate heat maps which can be used to personalize in-store promotions or speed up checkout lines.
#4. MSPs Go ‘High Touch’ By Embracing ‘Zero Touch’
For Managed Service Providers (MSPs), the edge represents both an opportunity to grow their business and improve the efficiency of their operations. Notwithstanding the current economic uncertainty, a recent Channel Futures survey found that the MSP industry remains bullish on its 2023 outlook. However, despite this optimism, most MSPs will acknowledge the many challenges that lay in store next year – from hiring and retaining expert IT talent to finding ways to improve their razor-thin profit margins amidst continuing supply chain shortages.
Which is why we believe we will see more MSPs embrace Zero Touch remote deployment technologies that enable them to essentially do a whole lot more without having to hire and train additional staff. Because Zero Touch is completely hands-off and fully automated, it removes a time-consuming step from the system provisioning process which typically requires having a knowledgeable IT expert on-site. The ability to not just remotely deploy but also proactively manage a fleet of locations from a single pane of glass represents an opportunity for forward-thinking MSPs to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market by delivering ‘high-touch’ services that drive long-term customer loyalty.
#5. VMware Uncertainty Drives Exodus
Perhaps the biggest tech news of the past year was Broadcom’s massive $61 billion acquisition of VMware in May which is expected to be finalized sometime in 2023. In the meantime however, there’s been no shortage of questions and unease about what Broadcom's plans are for VMware and what it means to customers.
VMware customers have long grumbled about rising licensing costs and as Broadcom has already made plain, they plan to aggressively pursue across the board cost-cutting to improve their net margins – so no one should be too surprised to see a substantial hike when their annual bill comes due. As noted in this August CRN article, “Broadcom has a history of making large multi-billion acquisitions followed by layoffs as well as a decline in either innovation or customer base, specifically with Broadcom’s acquisition of Symantec and CA Technologies.” This uncertainty was mirrored in a LinkedIn poll that Scale Computing conducted following news of the acquisition in which nearly a third of respondents (31%) said they “expect lower support and innovation."
To see how edge computing can help you better prepare for an uncertain future, look at the Edge Computing Self-Assessment tool to help you understand and think through the unique needs of your organization. The personalized report generated from 10 multiple-choice questions can help you identify and explore your current and future IT infrastructure needs and preferences.