The evolution of retail depends on edge computing

“When you think of a retailer with 2,000 locations across the country, it’s too expensive to deploy onsite data processing and analytics for each location. president of product and service management of technology company Lumen, who emphasizes that advanced computing is designed to work in tandem with the cloud. “Edge nodes combine hardware-based compute power with software-defined network capabilities to connect it to the public cloud,” he explains. “From a centralized node in a market area, say the size of Denver, advanced computing can serve many more points of sale in five milliseconds. ”

The opportunities outweigh the challenges

Shivkumar Krishnan, store engineering manager at Gap, says the biggest challenge in making advanced computing a reality in retail is legacy infrastructure. “As an end user in the cloud, it’s much easier to upgrade because you can just press a button and shut down or replace a virtual machine. In retail, it’s more of a logistics problem, ”he explains. During the first setup, each location needs to connect their devices to the edge, which may be necessary at night, when customers are not in the store. And with salespeople working on site, store security personnel as well as the manager will need to be available. “It really becomes a logistical challenge to determine everyone’s availability,” says Krishnan. “And the process has to be repeated for each of our 2,500 stores. In the cloud, one push of a button can deploy hundreds of servers.

Data security is also an inevitable challenge when it comes to the Internet of Things and other digital devices. “The more information you concentrate in one place, the more you have to worry about protecting it, and the riskier it becomes in terms of creating a single place that can be penetrated and information stolen,” says Savill. But edge computing supported at nearby data center nodes and connecting to the public cloud is generally more secure and reliable than what a retailer could do on their own. This is because edge providers, just like public cloud providers, provide cybersecurity from a central location, at scale, so that they have visibility into threats and how they affect their customers. customers, says Savill.

That said, the benefits and opportunities of Edge far outweigh the potential challenges. “One of our main edge computing use cases is the point of sale, where we process millions of transactions,” says Krishnan. From the store to the cloud, there are many points of failure: switches, routers, telecom circuit, and cloud providers. “The edge gives us a high level of redundancy to process all transactions in the store itself and roll back to the cloud if the edge fails,” he says.

“The Edge gives us full redundancy to process all transactions in the store itself and come back to the cloud if the Edge fails. ”

Shivkumar Krishnan, Head of Store Engineering, Gap

Gap has invested in edge servers over the past few years, says Krishnan, as part of a global platform using the latest technologies such as microservices, cloud computing, streaming services, and a DevOps approach to l ‘engineering. “Now with our platform, we can build, validate and deploy applications with fast turnaround times, all within the same day,” he says. “I can remotely monitor and manage the majority of our more than 100,000 devices. Our salespeople use iPads which allow us to create intuitive native mobile user experiences. ”

While Gap was at the start of the game of advanced computing, the challenge is to keep up with the newest and most advanced technologies, as with any technology adoption. Today’s edge servers feature integrated graphics processing units, network routers and 5G broadband technology, “all bundled into small footprint devices designed from the ground up for advanced machine learning,” he said. “Hopefully, we will seize the next iteration of these advancements and overtake the others who are getting them now.”

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