The Edge Brings New Life to Legacy Systems—But Be Sure to Access the Right Support

When examining complex factory production lines, which can take years and many millions of dollars to build, frequent, wholesale replacement is generally not an option.

Whenever new paradigms emerge in IT infrastructure and operations, we can almost hear the CIOs groan. Where are we going to find the money for this? The common misconception, promulgated in much of the advertising-supported trade press, is that implementing new models, such as edge computing, requires all new hardware.

Stepping back for a moment, experienced IT pros recognize this isn’t how things ever work out. Our industry hasn’t completed a full “rip and replace” of mainframes, let alone executed a bottom-up re-architecting with only cloud-ready systems. The reality is that successful technologies tend to build up in layers, as frustrating as the resulting complexity may be.

The same is happening now with edge computing—and that’s a good thing. IT organizations are finding new value in existing IT assets and using this equipment as a bridge to IoT. Fortunately, redeploying hardware at the edge can help reduce the need for huge capital expenditures and facilitate edge implementations. Not bad for some older servers and networking gear that might be hanging around the data center!

Taking a Page from IIoT

Industrial IoT could be considered the trendsetter here. When examining complex factory production lines, which can take years and many millions of dollars to build, frequent, wholesale replacement is generally not an option. A hydraulic pump from the mid-aughts, for example, might be working just fine, even if it lacks integrated IoT devices. So why not add sensors and make the old new again?

Similar adaptations are possible for enterprises seeking a cost-efficient means for advancing IoT and edge computing. Networks can be designed to reuse switches, routers, access devices, and other networking hardware. Although many organizations will want to integrate more SDN capabilities at some point, getting started with existing IT assets often makes the most sense.

What’s more, compute at the edge is typically more limited than for many centralized applications. Performing basic processing operations on data from devices within a limited physical proximity may not be particularly taxing, so hardware no longer capable of handling mission critical workloads in the data center can frequently keep up at the edge.

Compatibility issues need to be researched and addressed, of course, and reconfiguration and custom programming may be required to make former data center assets do the job for edge computing. This means reallocation of equipment will not eliminate all costs, but it can nonetheless make edge more affordable than many enterprises initially expect.

The Role of Monitoring and Support

One of the greatest challenges of edge computing is management of the now decentralized infrastructure. In many ways, edge is like the remote office problem on steroids, and it can challenge enterprises’ maintenance capabilities, drive up costs for routine upkeep, and add new support and troubleshooting headaches.

The answer is not to leave edge equipment to its own devices, if you’ll excuse the pun. Legacy assets require quality maintenance and support, whether they are situated in the data center or dispersed among various locations around the globe. A third party maintenance partner like Park Place Technologies can provide an edge-ready, budget-friendly maintenance and support solution for this new era.

In fact, our ParkView Automated Support service offers particular advantages for the edge paradigm. ParkView monitors client systems 24×7, proactively identifies hardware events, and automatically opens trouble tickets and triages the issue so Park Place’s field engineers can implement the right fix the first time. This means clients don’t need to send field technicians around to check on hardware deployed at the edge, saving time and money. Moreover, proactive identification and rapid resolution of issues means edge equipment can notch maximum uptime, just like gear housed in the data center.

So if you’re making the move to the edge with legacy gear, think about how you’ll support it. The right IT hardware maintenance partner may have more of an impact now than ever before.