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View from India: Edge – always smart and intelligent

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Multi-device connectivity has thrown up challenges and opportunities. Worldwide, 55 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will soon be connected. In order to support these devices and their applications, computation will move to the edge of the network.

Edge computing brings its own challenges. Firstly, people work in silos; operations that are both siloed and fragmented have to be integrated, such as in the case of wired and wireless systems. The rapid growth of IoT devices and applications means that the touch-points and endpoints will also increase in number, and these access points don’t necessarily have the required security protection – it takes just a couple of minutes to hack an IoT device. There is a growing need for edge computing and edge data centres.

IoT devices constantly give out data either from the cloud or, if customer-centric, it is generated from device usage. Traditional networking technologies may not be equipped to handle the quantum and diversity of data and so, consequently, the existing infrastructure of data centres needs to be scaled up: the bandwidth needs to be increased, just as the servers need to be speedier and operations need to be realigned, while the processing power calls for expansion to keep pace with the data deluge.

Nevertheless, this unstructured data on the edge has hidden opportunities. If analysed and acted upon properly, the data can be used to improve efficiencies, enhance experiences and enable new business outcomes. “Cloud economics and accessibility will help glean the data. Cloud-related insights will go into the machine learning module and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to make the edge more efficient. This will increase revenues and improve customer engagement,” says Prakash Krishnamoorthy, sales director of India, Aruba, a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise company.

We are now entering an era of data analytics driven by IoT, AI and automation supported by compute and modern networking to power a new breed of applications and workloads. They work in tandem with the cloud but operate at the edge. Basically, there’s a need for transformative technology to handle data. All these developments have led the company to create a solution for the market. “We are trying to position our tech-driven solutions in accordance with the edge, which gives opportunities and challenges,” adds Krishnamoorthy.

The outcome is ESP, or Edge Services Platform. This is the industry’s first AI-powered, cloud-native platform that predicts and resolves problems at the network edge before they happen. It is built on AIOps, Zero Trust network security, and a Unified Infrastructure for campus, data centre, branch and remote-worker locations. This offering is intelligent and application programme interface friendly. 

The architectural vision was laid in 2014, around the time when mobility moved from being supportive to mainstream. Hybrid cloud became a reality in the data centre scenario; cloud and access points got tied together. In the cloud-managed world, the company began to offer access products for edge companies to connect. Customers wanted a framework for operational simplicity for the switching platform. R&D led to cloud-managed switching. The company acquired AI firms and focused on the unification of network architecture for the wired and wireless segment.

Finally, in 2020, the company arrived at ESP, which is the outcome of many years of research and several engineers working to make it a reality. It’s born in the cloud era and focuses on mobility; it’s secure and connected over wired and wireless systems.

The new offering is already being used in the manufacturing industry in India, as shop floors use IoT devices that generate data. Consumers in the global market have lapped up ESP. “With the size of our infrastructure and massive volume of data being generated at the edge, we needed a way to identify, fix and fine-tune the network automatically,” says Brandon Stratton, enterprise systems network administrator of information technology at the University of Houston. “Aruba’s expertise and approach with AI-based solutions like NetInsight represents a pragmatic path for us to analyse and then act on the insights we capture.”

From the industry perspective, the demand for security has increased due to the growing culture and popularity of 'bring your own device' (BYOD) where individuals connect their personal phones and devices to an office's network. When BYODs connect to campus corporation networks, issues related to network visibility need to be resolved. Each network is different, and no two laptops operate in the same way. “The Intelligent Edge is the catalyst that will spark limitless possibilities for organisations and enterprises that want to accelerate transformation and ensure business continuity by leveraging their technology investments as their greatest asset,” says Keerti Melkote, president of Aruba.

Aruba briefed the Indian media about ESP through a webinar last week.

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