As the world continues to change, new complexities and customer demands require that companies in every industry constantly review their business processes to find opportunities for improvement. One of the technologies gaining prominence in this area is edge computing.
In order to double or triple efficiency, companies need more data. Frequently, it comes from smart sensors, newly integrated into every step of various processes. Take a typical production line with 2,000 pieces of equipment. According to IBM, each piece could have as many as 100-200 sensors collecting data on a continuous basis, generating 2,200 terabytes of data every month.
While the insights gained from analyzing this incredible amount of data will help to increase a company’s productivity, that same amount of data makes it ever more important to find a way to keep data processing costs low, while also reducing latency. This is where edge computing becomes critical to business strategy and operations. By keeping data processing at or near the physical location of the sources and users of the data, companies benefit from faster, more reliable services, improving operational efficiencies across the board.
Probably the most well-known benefit of edge computing is faster processing speed. This translates into lower response times for applications, as well as quicker big-data analysis, which allows for real-time alerts and insights for decision makers.
Additional benefits can include more local control over sensitive data; better resiliency, as computing power is kept local and isn’t dependent on the performance of a remote core site; lower network costs, and reduced bandwidth constraints.
Edge Computing in Different Industries
The technology can be seen at work in various industries, as companies look for faster ways to respond to business needs and increase flexibility. A few examples include:
Across the board, edge computing technologies will continue to expand as businesses’ reliance on IoT, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics deepens. Wherever there’s a need for greater data analysis, there’s one for improving bandwidth, latency, and resiliency through edge computing.
The Importance of an Optimized Network
How do you make edge platforms work for you? Edge computing is all about speed and efficiency, but if a business’s Wi-Fi network isn’t optimized — if there are issues with interoperability, aging equipment, capacity, utilization and the like — edge computing could become one of the casualties.
This is partly because any edge platform itself requires a network connection to operate, and also because those platforms depend on data that can only be captured if every other network device also has a strong and reliable connection. It’s critical that the entire network ecosystem perform optimally if edge platforms are to provide the best return on investment.
To ensure optimization, I.T. teams and network administrators need complete ecosystem visibility, proactive alerts, remote control and historical analytics.
In today’s complex Wi-Fi network environments, the easiest way to achieve all this is through the use of a Wi-Fi automation platform. As the name suggests, these platforms automate the Wi-Fi monitoring and analytics process, keeping eyes on the hundreds or thousands of connected network devices, and freeing up I.T. resources to focus on other critical responsibilities. Here’s what to look for when researching capabilities.
Complete ecosystem visibility. The only way to know without a doubt that a network is optimized is to know that every piece of that network is working exactly as it should. This includes back-end and front-end infrastructure, connected devices, and software applications. But it also includes insight into the behavior of devices such as microwaves and Bluetooth that can affect the Wi-Fi, as well as visibility into any interference from nearby networks.
As I.T. knows, Wi-Fi problems can have completely unexpected root causes, which necessitates visibility into the entire radio frequency ecosystem. No problem can be resolved without root cause identification. The faster that identification comes, the faster the problem vanishes, and the sooner operations resume. An automation platform that provides this visibility gives I.T. everything it needs in one user dashboard.
Proactive alerts. The only thing better than complete, real-time visibility is the ability to see into the future and resolve problems before they even occur. While technology isn’t quite there, it’s pretty close thanks to A.I. and machine learning.
With these technologies, automation platforms learn to recognize normal network behavior and can automatically alert I.T. whenever that behavior changes. These proactive alerts enable I.T. to jumpstart troubleshooting before end users are affected. In other words, as far as employees are concerned, the problem gets solved before it ever happened.
Remote control. There’s nothing worse than having to travel to a remote location before you can troubleshoot and resolve a problem — unless it’s being unable to travel at all. There are plenty of reasons why travel might be made impossible, and plenty more that explain why travel is an inconvenience even under the best of circumstances. At the very least, it costs money and time, two things that businesses could really do without when it comes to optimizing their Wi-Fi networks.
The solution is to work with an automation platform that supports remote testing and troubleshooting. With these capabilities, I.T. can optimize the network from any location, at any time. This not only greatly reduces the time spent traveling, but also saves I.T. from having to try and talk a non-I.T. expert through root cause identification and resolution when travel is impossible.
Historical analytics. Real-time alerts are key to optimization, but they aren’t the only requirement. Historical analytics have an important role to play, as they provide an in-depth look into how network behavior and performance have changed over time.
When it’s time for end-of-year budget and capacity planning, historical analytics provide quick answers to questions such as:
These answers help decision makers build a cost-effective, efficient, and personalized plan for network upgrades and updates.
As billions of edge platforms join the workforce, businesses need to ensure Wi-Fi network optimization in order to truly reap the benefits offered by these technologies. In Through Wi-Fi automation, optimization becomes proactive and future-proofed, supporting operational efficiency across all industries.
Roger Sands is chief executive officer of Wyebot, Inc.
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