Unifying Cloud and Edge: 6 Industry Experts Share Their Insights

Distributed, interconnected digital infrastructure is key to bringing edge and cloud together

Unifying Cloud and Edge: 6 Industry Experts Share Their Insights

According to the latest Equinix Global Tech Trends Survey, 59% of tech decision-makers said they planned to increase their spending on interconnection during 2022. One reason IT leaders are investing in interconnection capabilities is to supercharge their digital transformations through an optimized cloud-to-edge strategy.  

We reached out to several industry experts, and asked them how companies should be using hybrid multicloud architectures and flexible digital infrastructure to bring their cloud and edge strategies together. Read on to learn what insights these experts had to share about this important topic. 

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Dr. Sally Eaves, Global Strategic Advisor in Emergent Technologies and Founder of Aspirational Futures – @SallyEaves

At a time of ever-increasing change, complexity and technology convergence, digital leaders are shifting to a digital-first model comprising both edge and cloud. The need to optimize your digital infrastructure (network, compute and storage) to leverage the greatest performance and agility possibilities is key. Enterprises must be able to put workloads in the right places and flex their resources to demand, with the capacity to view, access and integrate disparate data sources, connect to the right partners, and orchestrate for automation, control, consumption, cost-effectiveness and compliance moving center stage.

Interconnection services are the bridge to deliver these outcomes, with interconnection to multiple public and private platforms also affording the ambidexterity needed to embrace technology trends and toolsets to be applied both now and in the future. This is especially true in light of growing multi-access edge compute (MEC) use cases, including AI, the metaverse, IoT, 5G and data compliance.  

For this reason, it comes as no surprise that 59% of respondents to the Equinix Global Tech Trends Survey intend to increase their investment ininterconnection services as they plan to progress digital transformation and build resilience. Furthermore, 35% believe interconnection increases flexibility of connectivity, while 30% said it enables hybrid multicloud.   

Digital transformation is a living, breathing strategy that needs constant monitoring and optimization, all achievable with interconnectivity to hybrid multicloud and edge strategies. In particular, on-demand interconnection at the edge is critical and provides a comprehensive and robust foundation for ever-expanding edge use cases and applications.  

"...Interconnection to multiple public and private platforms affords the ambidexterity needed to embrace technology trends and toolsets to be applied both now and in the future."

Milind Wagle, Chief Information Officer, Equinix – @MilindWagle

The rising adoption of interconnected, hybrid multicloud deployments reflects how all businesses are on digital transformation journeys. All companies are focused on modernizing their infrastructure and applications to drive growth, maintain a competitive edge, or improve the customer or employee experience.

In recent years, there has been a major shift in how infrastructure architecture is deployed and consumed. The innovation of hardware technologies and the rise of a DevOps model to deliver new IT services and applications have created demand for agile, secure, on-demand infrastructure. Hybrid multicloud is becoming the predominant architectural choice to enable this specialized infrastructure. Companies should evaluate their deployment needs and choose the right mix of flexible infrastructure, from public and private clouds to data centers at the edge (like Equinix), for a competitive advantage.

"The innovation of hardware technologies and the rise of a DevOps model to deliver new IT services and applications have created demand for agile, secure, on-demand infrastructure.

Keith Townsend, CEO and Founder, The CTO Advisor – @CTOAdvisor

According to research from a16z, startups are leaving billions of dollars of value on the table due to inefficient use of the public cloud versus private data center and edge deployments. Organizations can both capture that economic value and reduce the impacts of data gravity. With more data created at the edge, digital leaders must find a way to move cloud-like development to the edge. IT teams achieve this by abstracting the control plane using orchestration platforms such as Kubernetes. IT leaders should look toward vendors to simplify the adoption of cloud-native platforms via as-a-service offerings.

"With more data created at the edge, digital leaders must find a way to move cloud-like development to the edge."

Maribel Lopez, Founder & Principal Analyst, Lopez Research – @MaribelLopez

In the past, we had to force fit an application into one of two architectures: on-premises or in the cloud. Today, we can select the right location for the application to run based on characteristics such as latency, cost of compute, security, and compliance. We’re also seeing companies rethink the number of applications they need to refactor for a cloud-native world. Market leaders are consolidating applications, reimagining processes, and focusing on developing customization for strategic advantage.

Everything that doesn’t directly lead to strategic advantage should be purchased as a service. The move to as a service infrastructure and software solutions provide a new wave of agility. We’re also seeing the addition of edge computing, creating opportunities for realtime decision-making and action in factories, retail stores and logistics operations. For example, certain industries are adding computer vision for visual inspection at plants, minimizing empty shelves in retail and improving public safety at venues. It’s an exciting time. 

"Everything that doesn’t directly lead to strategic advantage should be purchased as a service."

Elias Khnaser, Chief of Research at EK Media Group – @ekhnaser

We are in the opportunity age, as more and more people enter the digital business lifecycle for the first time thanks to satellite internet, expanded infrastructure that is reaching rural areas, and of course 5G. To capture this opportunity, organizations must rapidly become digital leaders. Digital business is all about speed, and organizations that get there first are going to secure a significant market share.

Savvy organizations have realized that they can accelerate their digital transformation strategy by using interconnection to access a rich ecosystem of partners, gain cloud adjacency and deploy at the edge. This strategy affords organizations the flexibility to securely deploy infrastructure everywhere, generate actionable insights to take advantage of opportunities, and conduct business anywhere.

The digital economy will continue to expand, especially on the cusp of the metaverse and increased usage of augmented and virtual reality. Organizations must rethink their priorities and focus on their digital transformation first and foremost. It is not about cloud-first or edge-first or data center-first anymore; in fact, it never was. It’s always been about digital transformation and an end-to-end distributed architecture.

"Savvy organizations have realized that they can accelerate their digital transformation strategy by using interconnection to access a rich ecosystem of partners, gain cloud adjacency and deploy at the edge."

Leanne Starace, SVP Global Solutions Architecture and Engineering, Equinix  

There’s no universal definition of the digital edge, and there’s also no one-size-fits-all approach to bringing edge and cloud together. Most businesses will choose some combination of building out from the cloud to the edge (cloud-out) and building in from the edge to the cloud (edge-in). Exactly what mix of cloud-out and edge-in a particular business chooses will be highly dependent on which use cases they’re pursuing, how their end users are distributed, and what business criteria are the highest priority for them.

For instance, real-time analytics requires extremely low latency and is therefore an ideal cloud-out use case. In contrast, moving AI model inferencing from the edge in can have important cost benefits. Today’s enterprises need to plan for a wide range of use cases, and a hybrid multicloud architecture—supported by interconnected digital infrastructure distributed across core and edge locations—gives them the flexibility and agility needed to do that.

Learn more about the challenges and opportunities impacting digital leaders

The importance of interconnection to cloud and edge strategies is just one trend out of many identified in the results of the 2022 Equinix Global Tech Trends Survey. For a closer look at how global IT leaders are prioritizing sustainability, preparing for emerging technologies like 5G and Web3, and planning to address the tech skills gap, download the Global Tech Trends Survey results today. 

 

"Today’s enterprises need to plan for a wide range of use cases, and a hybrid multicloud architecture—supported by interconnected digital infrastructure distributed across core and edge locations—gives them the flexibility and agility needed to do that."