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The crucial role of edge data centres

Image: Adobe Stock / Who is Danny

The UK is undergoing a technological transformation, bringing unprecedented opportunities to regions across the country. While traditionally London and the South East have benefited from better access to infrastructure, leadership and skills than the rest of the nation, edge computing has the potential to restore the balance and enable the rest of the UK to stop playing catch-up.

The opportunities for enterprises, service providers and data centres are huge. The edge computing market is already valued at $6.29 billion for 2021, with predictions to grow to $61.14 billion by 2028. Demand is no doubt being driven by the rapid interconnection of IoT devices across infrastructure and industries and the need for increased connectivity and drive to process high volumes of data more efficiently.

But as organisations and service providers look to take advantage of the edge, the need to transform infrastructure strategies is increasing rapidly. This is made even more crucial by the dispersal of the UK workforce which looks set to remain in some form for good. Development of a nationwide edge computing platform will be fundamental in simplifying access to the edge and unlock the opportunity for many.

Understanding the benefits of edge computing

As workers disperse across the country, and 5G connectivity grows, more businesses need high-speed access to the cloud. However, public cloud solutions are frequently located too far geographically from the users and devices they serve, with the majority of the main providers based in London and the South East.

The high latency that can result from reliance on these centralised hubs can become a significant issue for businesses in the rest of the UK that depend on the real-time transfer of data. Think online gaming, betting and stock trading, where every second counts for an optimum user experience.

One of the core benefits of edge computing is that it brings applications and data processing closer to where it’s collected, enabling faster access and lower latency. By enabling applications and content to be processed and managed at the network edge, organisations can benefit from better performance, reduced costs and strengthened security.

The edge also brings greater opportunities for emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning, while allowing for simpler compliance with regulations. Data deemed sensitive can be processed at a local level, separate from the cloud. Sovereignty of information that needs to remain in the UK can also be ensured as post-Brexit requirements grow.

However, the problem is that many organisations still do not fully understand the edge, or how to access it, making it a seemingly unobtainable objective. This where the need for a nationwide edge computing platform arises.

Role of a national edge platform

A nationwide edge computing platform will enable businesses operating across regions to access and take advantage of edge through strategically located edge data centres. This way, organisations can avoid the need for data to return to a single centralised data centre and instead spread the load across several regional hubs, reducing congestion on the network, improving latency and reducing data transaction costs.

By providing a grid-like architecture, such a platform can deliver critical connections to digital ecosystems, with each edge data centre configured as a connectivity hub. Each is then connected by an agile network, capable of delivering low latency connectivity across the length and breadth of the nation. As a result, modern compute stacks are placed closer to each digital ecosystem, enabling faster access for application users, devices and providers. And businesses gain access to distributed multi-cloud models via regional edge data centres, as opposed to the traditional centralised data central model, breaking down the barriers of location.

The right platform will provide full route diversity around the UK to protect against any major fibre outages. For regional enterprise-level businesses, it will be a game-changer, enabling access to a unified network with reach across all corners of the UK, connecting users and cloud-based services.

Making edge a reality

Edge computing will unlock a wealth of opportunities for enterprises and service providers to improve efficiency and services and encourage further uptake of new technologies such as AI, machine learning and deep learning. It will be those organisations that can analyse and use data in near real-time who will gain the competitive edge through faster, more informed decision-making.

According to Garntner, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services that execute at the point of need by 2025. However, to truly realise the benefits of distributed edge cloud, organisations need access to a UK edge computing platform. Not only will this enable organisations to place points of presence in regional data centres, closer to dispersed users, but it will act as a crucial enabler in supporting the ecosystem of developers to drive the next wave of innovative applications.

Picture of Simon Michie
Simon Michie
CTO at Pulsant

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