The rise of Edge Computing in a post-Covid Southeast Asia

By Daniel Sim, Senior Director for Channel Business, Vertiv in Asia

With rapid changes in technology and business landscape, uncertainty has become everyone’s reality. This uncertainty has become more palpable with the Covid-19 crisis upending almost every sector and industry across the globe. In Southeast Asia, the pandemic has accelerated the consumers’ move online. In a study conducted by Bain and Facebook, 30 percent of the respondents have made more online purchases in the last six months. With the shift away from offline purchases, 83 percent of the respondents confirm that they will likely continue shopping online even after the restrictions are lifted. As consumers move most of their purchase activities and transactions online and organisations revisit their e-commerce strategies, the capabilities offered by Edge computing can help retailers boost operational efficiency and improve the customer’s digital experience. 

Amidst government-imposed social distancing measures, such as the movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia and circuit breaker (CB) in Singapore, many companies with remote work arrangements relied on collaboration platforms to keep their employees connected and ensure business continuity. While restrictions are slowly easing up, remote work is here to stay, which made the home office a network Edge destination in and of itself. As companies embrace remote working, Edge computing will be one area in which will see an uplift as a result of the changing work environment. Indeed, more investment in Edge, such as in greater distribution networks, may have helped mitigate some of the bandwidth issues employees experienced during the lockdowns.

Undoubtedly, the recent wave of disruptions have afforded enterprises a clear view of the role digitisation will play in the future, and why investing in IT infrastructure now will help future-proof the business. Against this background, we are seeing some key trends accelerating in the IT infrastructure buying landscape, most notably the accelerated move towards Edge computing. 

Understanding Network Edge

Modern businesses generate large amounts of data from multiple entry points. To reduce latency and ensure efficiency, digitisation needs to happen near the user, outside of the ‘core’ data centre space. Companies are investing in digitisation to respond to this need and to compete more effectively in their own markets. With this environment, industry leaders are anticipating a significant increase in demand with Edge computing. 

According to Vertiv’s 2019 whitepaper Data centre 2025: Closer to the Edge,  20 percent of the respondents expect an increase of 400 percent with the number of Edge sites they will support in the next five years. With a surge in demand, network Edge would require new types of data centre capacity deployed closer to end-users – most probably in the form of prefabricated, modular data centre infrastructure to achieve speed, standardisation and reliability. 

Network Edge capability is comprised of three things. First, there is Legacy Edge, which is enterprise-owned compute being shifted to colocation and public cloud. Legacy Edge presents a local compute opportunity to retrofit legacy apps not portable to the cloud. Geographic Edge facilitates the one-way flow of data from primarily content distribution network in tier 2 and 3 cities with populations of 20,000 to 100,000. This infrastructure will help alleviate bottlenecks when thousands of people are streaming video all at the same time. The third type is called Dynamic Edge. With the explosion of new IoT devices mainly in urban locations, the purpose of Dynamic Edge is to create continuous two-way traffic of data.

The Role of Channel Partners in Utilising the Power of Network Edge 

In both core and whitespace, scale, speed and complexity, are some of the challenges network Edge clients face. For instance, when building out network Edge, where can customers get technical support? For businesses with multiple Edge sites, how can they deploy efficiently and confidently? While the deployment stage is important, the flexibility to customise Edge sites in advance and have local assistance on the ground is a differentiator. Channel partners must help their customers navigate these challenges by combining their expertise with experienced strong vendors. 

Critical IT Infrastructure as the foundation of any reliable facility requires more than simply the components of racks, Protocol Data Units (PDUs), uninterruptible power supply (UPS), cooling and remote management. The deployment of IT facilities requires a flexible approach from vendors who can deliver standardised products or engineered-to-order solutions and provide customer service support everywhere.

As a channel partner, Vertiv is committed to empowering and enabling clients in providing solutions and services to their customers through training and certifications, marketing support, as well as technical and sales support. In a partnership with a local cloud and colocation services provider, Vertiv embarked on the construction of the first state of the art, cloud data centre in Malaysia. Built with a modern, secure, scalable and highly resilient infrastructure, the cloud data centre can house multiple clusters of high-end data centre facilities and support a wide range of client applications. With this collaboration, businesses in Malaysia are able to increase compute capacity when needed in order to respond to the changing needs of the market.

Reflecting on the events that shaped the year 2020, it is clear that investment in digitisation will continue to increase. IT and technology have played critical roles by supporting businesses and keeping people and communities connected. Prior to Covid-19, companies have already been pursuing digitisation and modernisation projects, but the current landscape demands for fast-tracked transformation. To seize digitisation opportunities, businesses and institutions need to start reviewing their critical IT infrastructure today and see how Edge computing can help the business get ahead of the game.

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