Continuing our discussion on defining the edge – read Part 1 here – is having a cloud strategy really the Golden Ticket to a pain-free and easy-to-manage IT portfolio? Well, hang on a minute. The game has changed, and while the common-or-garden office worker doesn’t know/understand/care where their emails are outside of their own laptop or mobile phone, we aren’t just people punching numbers into terminals anymore. The world itself “thinks” and transmits more data than we’d ever have been comfortable with if confronted with the facts of today 20 years ago, so we need to make sure we do know what is really happening; understand what the data needs to do and where it should go, and in the technology industry we absolutely need to care what happens with it when its been sent off into the air!
As the Internet-of-Things generates more bits and bytes than grains of sand in all the beaches of the Earth, we find the pipes they travel along getting more and more congested. Those old server rooms have started to repopulate with a server or two. How familiar does this sound:
“That finance app crashes when it’s run from Azure, so we got a pair of ESXi servers and run it here in the office. While we were at it, we also DFSR copied our file shares, virtualized the door-entry system and set up the weekly burger run rota on a spreadsheet in the office!”
Bringing that data and processing closer to the staff that need it improves access, reduces latency, and indeed, makes sure you know who’s turn it is to buy lunch if you lost the internet connection for the day. The modern way to implement IT at the edge is to use hyperconverged solutions – combining servers, storage and networking into a simple to use package. Of course server virtualization is key to hyperconverged but so is storage virtualization. The days of requiring externally shared physical storage are gone. Nowadays, virtual SANs have taken over. A virtual SAN simply means that the internal server disk drives are used to “trick” the hypervisor into thinking it still has shared access to a physical SAN to handle all its advanced functionality. But in fact, there is no need for expensive external storage anymore – just use the disks you have inside the servers along with a virtual SAN software solution that provides the high availability/mirroring between nodes to ensure uptime. There are so many examples of how this approach helps solve business problems at the edge.
Wind farms generate huge amounts of data that needs processing and only a small fraction is required to be analysed back at the HQ. Yet with their locations almost by definition being off the grid, how do you sift through this without some sort of machine to do it there-and-then? Hyperconvergence and small-footprint edge-centric devices enable the results to be transmitted at lower cost, through less bandwidth, driving overall efficiency.
When you tap on that online video link and it starts streaming to your phone, this doesn’t come from “the” Google/YouTube server, it comes from a distributed content network and cleverly optimizes the bandwidth it needs by looking at your location, analyzing the route to the closest cache and making sure that you get to see those cute puppies without clogging up bandwidth on the other side of the planet.
While these are some varied basic examples, the same is true in nearly all scenarios. This is the modern Edge; and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
To round this off, you may be asking why any of this matters to you or your organization. You may have a 5-year cloud strategy and may be able to make that work and never have to reboot a server ever again, good on you! For the rest of the world, having a highly available, yet simple solution that can be deployed over and over again; just like the first; one that delivers the IOPs and performance required by your remote or small office branches; that leverages all the technology you’ve been using for your entire career but does it in a way that enables the innovation, efficiency and 100% uptime we’ve all become used to instead of hindering it: you should check out StorMagic. We are the Edge.