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Latency higher priority than speed as IT leaders look to gain edge

Business leaders believe success depends on low latency, namely 10ms or less to ensure the success of their applications, with three-quarters requiring 5ms or less for edge initiatives

With distributed workforces making connectivity more business-critical than ever, and with a growing number of internet of things (IoT) devices to support, controlling latency has never been more important, says research from Lumen Technologies and Intel.

The study reinforces the basic premise that distance neutralises speed, causing latency or a delay between an action and an application’s response, so low latency is critical to help ensure smooth transport of data and for optimising application experiences.

The upshot of this is that business executives are increasingly looking to move technology resources closer to where data is produced and consumed, with two-thirds of global IT leaders now in the process of implementing edge computing, said the study, carried out by IDC for the two tech firms.

The report, Edge computing solutions powering the fourth industrial revolution, surveyed 800 IT and operational technology decision-makers (director level or above) split equally across seven industries – energy, logistics, government/public sector, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and retail banking. Participants worked in the US, the UK, India, Canada, Australia and Singapore. About 30% of respondents were from organisations with more than 10,000 employees, and 70% were from organisations with 1,000 to 10,000 employees. 

The survey found a clear acceleration in edge computing. By 2023, more than 50% of new enterprise IT infrastructure deployed is likely to be at the edge rather than in corporate datacentres, while a year later, the number of apps at the edge is projected to increase by 800%. The upshot is that by 2024, 75% of enterprises will prioritise infrastructure agility and operational efficiency, and two-fifths of organisations plan to invest in new edge solutions in less than a year.

The study also found that as many as 90% of business leaders who took part in the survey specified that they needed low latency of 10ms or less to ensure the success of their applications. Three-quarters said they required 5ms or less for edge initiatives and the same proportion now consider edge computing a strategic investment, partly because the cost of bandwidth and a centralised infrastructure is seen as prohibitive.

When considering new edge systems, 73% of respondents said they preferred a flexible managed service model with subscription-based services. The study said this preference aligned with the popularity of consumption-based models across all industries, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer.

Nearly half of the organisations surveyed (47%) plan to invest in new edge solutions in less than a year, in part to help achieve real-time data consumption and analysis. Just over half (54%) were comfortable turning to a technology service provider to deliver edge solutions.

Ghassan Abdo, research vice-president, WW telecom, virtualisation and CDN at IDC, said it was clear from the research that reducing the distance that critical data must travel is seen as imperative to fuelling growth and innovation for enterprises.

“C-suite leaders across verticals are looking to edge computing solutions to achieve significant operational efficiencies and improved security and compliance by limiting movement of data,” he said. “They also want to deliver better customer experiences. All of these priorities can be addressed through edge computing.”

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