August 21, 2019 By James Hunter 3 min read

Edge computing is a distributed architecture that moves applications as close as possible to where actions are performed—and, essentially, where the data is created.

This is a transformational approach to how enterprises can run applications and services. Internet of Things-connected devices and assets—such as driverless vehicles, mining equipment, commercial vessels, oil rigs, smart parking meters, fitness trackers, and household appliances—are dependent on edge applications, but it is the widespread rollout of 5G that will accelerate businesses from all industries and allow them to introduce new disruptive applications and services. 

Tip: If you need a quick review of edge apps, read the What is edge computing? explainer or watch the video (10:39).

The growth of 5G

CTIA estimates that the utilization of 5G is going to generate $500 billion in economic growth and will help create up to 3 million new jobs. Accenture expects that “5G will fundamentally transform mobile tech and what it means for all of us. Companies in every industry must get ready now for the upcoming 5G revolution.” Vodafone New Zealand CEO Jason Paris thinks that 5G “it’s our most powerful tool yet, representing a transformational shift that will drive a digital revolution.”

The need for application modernization and software transformation

Enterprises will transform their digital services to utilize 5G, but given the integrated nature of their third-party application dependencies and their integration with their supply chains, a significant amount of application modernization is required. According to a study from Qualcomm, by 2035, 5G could underpin up to $12.3 trillion (£9.3 trillion) worth of goods and services in industries like retail, healthcare, education, transportation, entertainment, and more.

Underpinning the move of applications to the edge is the transformation of the software applications and services provided and used by the enterprise. 5G is an enabler for a hyperconnected enterprise and will remove the barrier from what is on-premise versus what is at the edge or remote from the core.

Therefore, providing a framework for delivering consistent and reliable software changes as fast as possible—and to all connected endpoints—should be the focus of enterprises wanting to realize the value of this technological transformation.

Core to this transformation is moving software applications and services to open technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes. Applications built for open containers can be securely deployed, tested, run, and managed on multiple devices with services executed from multiple private and public clouds. 

Hybrid technologies become the platform for adopting new edge-based applications and solutions, with easier updates to the edge, quicker scaling, and better resiliency of the solutions.

With networks increasingly becoming software-based, it is essential that stakeholders from the business, development, and operations worlds collaborate together to deliver the necessary reliable solution. 

Journey to the edge plus DevOps

From this perspective, it is clear why a journey to edge computing must naturally adopt DevOps principles. Business agility requires a tight relationship between all the technologists and the business stakeholders. IBM research shows that the majority of outperformers in the market invest in both a modernization strategy and DevOps.

Successful teams will curate a DevOps culture by enabling all stakeholders and ecosystem partners to use a continuous delivery backbone to move changes from code to test to production. 

A continuous testing strategy is required to rapidly assess quality and risk, and delivery intelligence is needed to help understand and improve the overall delivery process. 

IBM’s point of view is that the core practices of DevOps for edge transformation are continuous integration and continuous delivery, continuous testing and value stream management.

IBM Cloud DevOps

AI, cloud, 5G, IoT, and software-defined networks are enabling enterprises to modernize their applications to utilize edge computing. Many of those applications are designed to process and transfer data at the edge and are being developed in open source ecosystems—like containers—so they can run on multiple kinds of devices and operating systems.

As a result, an IBM Cloud Pak for Applications on Red Hat with IBM UrbanCode DevOps is a key platform on the journey to edge computing.

IBM has built an industry-leading, hybrid cloud DevOps capability to help teams deliver reliable software to the edge, as fast as possible. 

Learn more about IBM Cloud DevOps.

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