Technology as much as it drives innovation, it can also bring its own set of challenges, especially those with multiple sites. Technological advancements are providing organisations with new improved business processes, customer interaction methods, and payment solutions all of which often need to be consolidated or managed from one centralised site.
The requirement to effectively coordinate the IT capability across all sites is crucial, regardless how small each remote site may be. Not only does a company need to ensure that operational continuity is achieved, but it is often using already over-stretched IT budgets and limited internal resources.
Companies are now facing the need to review their IT strategy for several reasons.
Stretched Budgets & Specialism
The cost of supporting remote branch IT is ever increasing due to the frequency of required on-site support. The expense of both personnel time and travel can soon add up especially if your IT remote sites are distributed internationally. Reliance on localised untrained staff creates opportunity for costly mistakes and important software and hardware updates can often be overlooked or executed incorrectly.
Need for Commonality
Companies such as restaurants or retailers may have numerous outlets but they all share the same organisational procedures and software. They face the challenge of delivering a coherent digital strategy that encompasses multichannel retailing. This could include in-store ordering via an interactive tablet, mobile payments, utilisation of apps to check stock or warehouse pick & pack operations.
Every site must be able to speak to each other. For example, if one clothing store doesn't have the required garment for a customer, a staff member should be able to locate a store that does. Therefore, there is a requirement for commonality and thus ensuring that each site does not create its own processes and systems over time to become 'unique'.
Keeping it Local
In some industry sectors such as Education, Healthcare and Defence there is a requirement to keep data local. The need for control, privacy and policy reasons makes it virtually impossible to move to a cloud only model, but requires an on-premise solution at each campus, hospital or military base.
The need for speed is driving companies to opt for on-premise edge IT infrastructure to deliver the required responsiveness, reliability and performance. This is particularly the case when network connections don't deliver sufficient bandwidth for data heavy apps.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) increases in popularity companies are considering options on how to process this information whilst improving security, processing real-time operational action triggers and reducing data storage.
Some companies have found their solution is an IT strategy that utilises the Cloud which is supported by on-premise IT infrastructure located at each remote site. This is driving the emphasis on delivering state-of-the-art, agile and secure data centre infrastructure whilst not breaking already overstretched budgets.
The integration of 'edge computing' is placing data acquisition and control functions, storage of high bandwidth content and applications closer to the end user which is solving latency challenges.
Edge computing is a distributed IT architecture in which customer data is processed at the periphery of the network, as close to the originating source as possible. Depending on the implementation, time-sensitive data in an edge computing architecture may be processed at the point of origin by an intelligent device or sent to an intermediary server located in close geographical proximity to the client. As transmitting massive amounts of raw data over a network puts tremendous load on network resources, data that is less time sensitive is sent to the cloud for historical analysis and long-term storage.
Edge computing can also benefit remote office/branch office (ROBO) environments and organisations that have a geographically dispersed user base. In such a scenario, intermediary micro data centres or high-performance servers can be installed at remote locations to replicate cloud services locally, improving performance and the ability for a device to act upon perishable data in fractions of a second.
If you are interested in taking IT to the Edge, contact Workspace Technology to find out how we can help.