The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at a rapid pace, with manufacturers of everything from fridges to jeans coming under pressure to quickly provide new connected products for today’s demanding consumers. McKenzie & Company predicts the annual growth rate of IoT devices to be about 33 percent, with Gartner forecasting an additional 21 billion endpoints will be in operation by 2020.

Due in part to the trend for IoT devices, computing capacity is moving closer to the edge than we’ve ever seen before, and this is because of the need for governance, security, regulation and IP protection.

The need for speed

Moving datacentres closer to the edge can, in fact, solve various issues caused by IoT devices, not least of which is the need for speed. When looking into the near future with the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) taking hold, it is clear there will need to be a wider range of powerful analytics solutions located at the point of consumption, because network latency can be very costly and even fatal to businesses.

The need for balance

Moving towards the edge, however, doesn’t mean that we should forget about the myriad of benefits the cloud brings entirely. When talking among peers, it is clear that edge computing and networks as we know them will co-exist for some time to come, and that a balance will be achieved based on use cases and business scenarios.

Moving to the edge also doesn’t mean that this is the end for core datacentres. It’s about an appropriate use of edge and public cloud based on need, rather than one being better than the other. The answer here lies in hybrid solutions and building true end-to-end ecosystems that allow for both to be used in tandem.

A continual evolution

There is no doubt that we are going to see the continual evolution of the hybrid cloud model. People have been talking about a hybrid for quite some time now, but the evolution of services and architectures that support this model is yet to match up to requirements.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The idea of buying a private version of Azure…will prove to be a turning point” hashtags=”Azure, IoT”]

Microsoft and its launch of Azure Stack later this year could be the one to change this. Azure Stack is all about putting services and capabilities at the edge while ensuring that the benefits of hyper-scale computing and services in the public cloud are available when required.

The idea of buying a private version of Azure — with all its inherent services and capabilities — and putting this at the edge to deal with latency, governance, IOT and security (and doing so in essentially the same ecosystem), will prove to be a turning point.

Pick and choose

It would be premature to predict that businesses will move everything previously kept at the core towards the edge overnight, but we will see them starting to pick and choose depending on the circumstances. After all, we have lived through a period where the public cloud has been the bright new shiny toy, capable of solving all the ills that corporate IT has suffered from for years.

As the public cloud matures and evolves, people are naturally starting to see use cases where the edge has distinct advantages over centralised cloud scenarios. At the cloud end there is less control and less customisability, but better scalability and access to hyper-scale services that you couldn’t justify building for yourself. At the edge end, you have more control, more customisability, lower latency and the ability to apply greater control and regulation.

Keep the lights on

With the release of Azure Stack, more businesses will be encouraged to put their services and capabilities at the edge, while ensuring that the benefits of hyper-scale computing and services in the public cloud are available when required. If a business can buy what is essentially a black box appliance supported by the hardware vendor and Microsoft directly, then all you have to do is keep the lights on, so to speak.

This makes edge scenarios cost effective and easy to manage, but with the added benefits of intelligent elasticity back to the public cloud with little, if any, costs or changes are required. This is a true hybrid cloud environment that takes the benefits of both the edge and the core and combines them both.

The idea of bringing private cloud capability back to the edge is one of the biggest game changers we have seen for some time. The other big public cloud players will undoubtedly try to keep up to ensure they remain relevant to the edge by evolving their true hybrid strategies. However, right now, it is Microsoft that has the edge!

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