Packaged Edge Computing offers a huge opportunity for channel partners and systems integrators

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By Greg Hookings, Director of Business Development – EMEA, Stratus Technologies.

Deploying a digital transformation (DX) strategy is no easy feat, partly because it isn’t a single ‘thing’ that can be delivered.

There is no one product that completes a DX journey, nor a single department that DX applies to. Each company must evaluate a range of technologies and approaches that need to interlock across multiple disciplines and take action according to their unique business requirements. However, on the DX journey there are certain fundamentals that can be brought together into a package by channel partners and systems integrators to simplify the process for end users.

Edge Computing is a great example. Regardless of sector, moving processing power to the edge for real-time data analysis opens up a multitude of efficiency improvements and the right deployment can ensure critical applications remain always on and unplanned IT downtime is removed.

Having identified the opportunity that Edge Computing presents, end users must align several aspects of their business, their suppliers and their integrators to deliver a suitable solution. Marshalling this ecosystem is not easy in itself, but increasingly the experience and technology required can be resourced directly from channel partners and systems integrators, who are well positioned to ‘cherry pick’ best in class solutions from vendors and effectively pre-package the computing platform and software capability with their own integration and domain expertise to offer a complete Edge solution.

That Edge Computing was one of the DX technologies most accelerated during the pandemic should come of no surprise, since it is a lynchpin of modern data management. Under the huge pressures of Covid-19, when onsite access was often limited and Edge Computing solutions sought to help manage real-time data and keep the lights on, this new ‘packaged Edge’ started to prove it’s potential. 

Systems integrators and channel partners alike who developed their offering as part of a pre-built ecosystem are now perfectly positioned to support the roll-out of DX technologies in a post pandemic world that faces a whole raft of new pressures that Edge Computing can help mitigate, be that rising energy costs, a widespread cost-of-living crisis, or inevitable Net-Zero targets.

Why Edge?

With computing power located at the application edge, companies are able to collect data from the furthest reaches of an enterprise and process it at the point of collection.. This removes the need to move data to data centres or to the cloud for analysis to gain insight. The transfer of large volumes of data to a data centre or to the cloud leads to bandwidth and latency issues, delaying how quickly operators can react to issues. 

Add to this the high cost associated with data centre space or cloud storage and it is clear that it’s not the right computing solution for the huge quantities of real-time data being created at the application edge. Channel partners and SIs can solve these issues by including Edge Computing within their offering, but it is vital to offer a solution that is cost effective and simple to deploy.  Choosing the right solution means providing customers with a technology that has a provable return on investment and that can offer payback on the original purchase in less than eight months. 

At a time when a huge swathe of businesses from food manufacturing to offshore platforms and everything in between are tasked with achieving more with less, trusted partners and integrators can easily deliver rapid efficiency improvements that will be felt by the bottom line by recommending an Edge Computing solution. 

Modernisation of legacy assets is another key driver for Edge Computing solutions. When tasked with improving overall efficiency without the budget for new, high-cost assets, it’s up to the trusted advisors to unlock the improvements that are hiding within modern facilities. Any process-type use-case with assets remaining in operation for a long time, from a water plant to a packaging line, has machines that are producing vast amounts of data. 

In the rare cases that assets have no IIoT sensor technology, it can be retroactively fitted at a low cost. Assets producing data is of course a good thing, but it means very little if that data isn’t turned into readily available information for the people that need it the most to make better decisions with. Again, the opportunity to solve this issue is in the hands of channel teams and system integrators, often brought in to pilot new automation projects for businesses that may not have the required staff or in-depth knowledge to procure and implement it in-house. 

When a channel partner or SI includes Edge Computing in their solution it ticks another fundamental box of DX: futureproofing. The pandemic offered many examples of advantages that agile industrial businesses have such as adopting new technologies, rapidly introducing new products, adapting existing assets to new processes, increased remote operations, and digitally connecting the workforce. Current world events that have caused a sharp increase in energy prices and a cost-of-living crisis being felt across much of the world show that the need to be agile and resilient is here to stay. 

Creating an enterprise that can effectively use the data found within the facility not only delivers immediate benefits but equips the customer with the tools to explore future capabilities of digital transformation. Capabilities like artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive maintenance, or remote monitoring can only be fully enabled with the ability to collect, store and analyse data in real-time. 

Delivered value

The ongoing nature of digital transformation works in the favour of channel teams and integrators, who are ideally placed to leverage their expertise and bring together multiple vendors to deliver ongoing value and forge lasting relationships. A vital element of that relationship (and overall DX strategy) is choosing best-in-class products and packaging them into an end-to-end solution. 

Both channel partners and systems integrators understand better than anyone the needs of their customers, and are in the best position to highlight technology that will make their lives easier, creating a clear pathway to ongoing digital transformation and continuous improvement.

Channel Partners and systems integrators looking include the best-in-class Edge Computing platform should consider the Stratus Technologies ztC Edge. The only platform of its kind to have a provable average ROI of 237% that can seamlessly work alongside a variety of software applications and deliver value across any end-to-end solution.

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