Optimizing data transmission from field devices to the cloud in a way that can enable quick response time and reduce network congestions have been the prime motives behind inventing this emerging technology called Edge Computing. Edge computing has become popular in IIOT networks as it offers a viable solution to emerging network problems in factories. Edge computing facilitates the movement of enormous volumes of data that organizations produce and consume.
Edge devices do several jobs, contingent upon what sort of device they are and the use case. Some essential functions of edge devices are the transmission, directing, preparing, observing, sifting, interpretation, and storage of information passing between networks. In IIoT networks, edge devices are network edges infrastructure products like gateways, routers, switches, WAPs, and higher-level end devices like controllers, HMIs, drives, etc.
The software running on the edge device, i.e., the “edge stack” that makes all of the above possible, is made up of proxies connected via network protocols. Simply put, “edge device stack” is the set of brokers that lies between your application and your end-users.
How do Edge Devices Work?
An edge device connects your OT network to IT network and enables you to collect data from all the field devices, process them, and send them to the cloud for further analysis. Edge computing delivers a range of benefits and makes it attractive to industrial/manufacturing organizations.
Industrial edge computing brings low latency computing to manufacturing facilities and is beneficial for organizations using edge computing in IIoT devices. Edge devices’ working principle is that it serves as network entry or exit. It connects two networks by translating one protocol into another and creates a secure connection with the cloud.
Where are the Edge Device Stack Required?
One can deploy edge device stack in instances where they need to use edge devices, and edge devices are used for the following purposes:
- Where there is poor connectivity of IIoT devices
- You have raw data at the edge that need pre-processing to reduce computation
- You are running applications dependent on machine learning and a large amounts of data are required
- You have to keep the data within the factory premises for maintaining security and privacy
By integrating edge computing in the devices and the processes that drive automation, IIoT can enable a paradigm shift in automating industrial processes. The proliferation of edge devices increases the overall surface for networks, cloud data load, data security, and connection optimization, and much more.
Edge devices vary in terms of physical form and capability. Since edge devices serve different purposes, they come in various shape sizes, functionalities and go beyond RFID tags, temperature detectors, and vibration sensors. Intelligent edge devices in manufacturing facilities can include vision-guided robots or industrial PCs.
So, To Buy or To Build?
Whether you should build or buy an edge device stack depends upon your organization’s requirements and the in-house resources you have. Let’s look at the both the options one-by-one!
Building the Edge Device Stack
If you can achieve the customization to suit your unique requirements, going for the build can be the best bet. If you decide to build, keep the following things in mind:
- You have to invest the time, product, and engineering effort building the device stack, as it is complex and diversified in nature
- The infrastructure relationships you have to maintain;
- The resources you will need to hire to build or maintain the device stack to operate the networking, compute, and orchestration technologies
- If you are a build strategy in an area that is most often outside the core business.
If you are clear with the things mentioned above and ready to build your edge device stack, take inspiration from some pioneers of edge computing like Netflix, eBay, and more. All these brands have invested heavily in building edge engineering teams and technology to meet their data, latency, and availability needs from the device edge stack. Keep in mind that edge devices on their own are prone to cyber-attacks and hacks. Therefore, pay special attention to this aspect while designing security architectures.
Pros of Building Edge Device Stack
Building an edge device stack from scratch has its own set of benefits. Some of the pros of choosing build option are:
- Huge predictability
- Maximum control and flexibility
- Efficiency in operation
- Control of the entire process and speed
Every coin has two sides, and building your edge device stack is not different.
The time, effort, and investment you have to do for making your edge infrastructure, including orchestrating resources alongside managing scaling and monitoring, is practically too much to handle. Or put, it might not be feasible for many SMBs as they do not have experienced professionals or that much budget.
Buying the Edge Device Stack
If you are not very convinced with building the stack from scratch, reach out to consultants and partners of the to buy the edge device stack. They will help you implement the edge device stack in the very least effort and time. However, if you don’t choose a competent one, it might cost you even more money to fix the issues they bring. Therefore, do your research on them before you sign a contract.
For example, Azure stack edge is a purpose-built hardware-as-a-service that provides you with quick, actionable insights at the edge where data is created. They offer an easy ordering process and fulfillment. You can order from the Azure portal in a hardware-as-a-service model and pay monthly based upon your subscription to Azure.
Pros of Buying Edge Device Stack
- You don’t have to take the headache of managing the upgrades and adding new features to the stack to adapt to the changing market scenarios
- The support experts at the vendor’s side take the responsibility of configuring it to suit your business needs
- No need to hire specialized resources deploying the edge stack to your network Secure and reliable in terms of proven functionalities, version management, security provisions, etc.
- The total cost of ownership is lesser
The answer to whether you should build or buy an edge device stack depends upon the type and cost of IIoT devices you want to use. If your requirement for commercial software is 60% or more, go for the buy option.
Whether you decide to build or buy the edge device stack, an important aspect to keep in mind is if you can strongly vote for either option. While both have their demerits, they have equally bright benefits too. Fulfilment of your business needs, reliability, feasibility, ROI, etc., are some of the most important factors to scrutinize before going for any option.
Utthunga offers advanced and comprehensive solutions that align perfectly with your organizational goals.