On the edge of IoT as 5G comes of adolescence

Perfect storm of tech will drive enterprise automation

After years of talk and hype 5G is starting to emerge as something of a reality. In February, the European Horizon 2020 Project launched its testbed for trialing futuristic media services in Bristol and Barcelona, while the latest 5G spectrum sell-off saw UK operators fork out nearly £1.4bn in April. US operator AT&T announced it will launch a 5G network later this year, while a report by Viavi revealed that there are now 72 operators across the globe currently testing the technology.

There are no shortage of trials and according to a recent CCS Insight report, it is the US and Asia that will dominate early adoption. This won’t of course stop cities across the globe claiming 5G firsts (the University of Bristol demoed the world’s first end-to-end 5G network at MWC in March) but what it means is that the technology should mature rapidly.

We’ve already had our first commercial taste at the recent Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where Intel, Samsung and KT collaborated to provide high resolution streaming and VR experiences, thanks to 5G-connected cameras. So, we know it can work in the real world at least on a small, controlled scale but what we really need to understand is how this will impact computing on a wider scale.

Japanese giant Toshiba aims to provide a platform for making integration between the edge and the network easy. Find out more: Toshiba has its eye on the wearables and edge computing space

There is a coming together of new technology. 5G is maturing at a time when demand for connected devices and sensors is increasing and with it pressure on networks to manage increased amounts of data. This is where edge computing steps in, to increase processing and analytics capabilities nearer to the source of the data. It’s certainly gathering momentum, with Intel announcing a chip designed for computing at the edge back in February. What it means is that to cope with increased complexities and the demand for real-time monitoring of networks and datacenters, organizations will have to look for more automation.

“Smart companies are pushing their compute and analytic capabilities across their IT landscapes to the edge and finding that it serves growing needs around real-time analytics and supports taking action at the speed of your business,” says Shawn Rogers, senior director analytic strategy at Tibco. “Moving analytics to the data instead of the traditional approach of moving data across the network to the datacenter saves time, reduces complexity and allows companies to automate actions and insights, mash up valuable data and drive ROI.”

Rogers actually goes on to say that for any business to stay competitive, maintaining a solely centralized strategy is “antiquated and likely to reduce your ability to digitally transform your company.” He has a point. It’s a view shared by Carl Grivner, CEO of Colt who says that as devices multiply, the computation needs at the heart of the Internet of Things will increasingly shift to the edge.

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