Ziad Youssef, Vice President of Secure Power at Schneider Electric Middle East and Africa, believes that organizations unwilling to adopt edge computing solutions will experience inefficiency. Here’s why.
According to Kenneth Research, the Middle East and Africa’s edge computing market is expected to hit $1.4 billion by 2023 with an estimated CAGR of 33%. With the increasing convergence between Information Technology and Operational Technology to support the ongoing digital transformation of industry and infrastructure, there exists a huge potential in growth for edge computing regionally.
For Ziad Youssef, VP Secure Power MEA at Schneider Electric, the next 12 months are going to be particularly significant for the deployment of cloud-based and edge computing solutions. “This is in large part due to the emphasis on digital transformation, where manufacturers must focus on deploying computing resources where it makes the most sense to do so on an application-to-application basis,” says Youssef. As the industry becomes more focused on closing the loop between data extraction and value creation, this synchronized approach has emerged to enable industrial organizations to distribute computing resources more broadly.
The huge amount of data being generated on a daily basis is set to gather pace. According to ResearchandMarkets.com, the Middle East is also likely to experience growth in the data center market with a CAGR of around 7% between 2018-2024. While large-scale data centers have led the way so far, incorporating an edge computing solution simultaneously will help businesses better decipher this forecasted wave of data. From reducing latency to increasing security and deploying IT equipment, edge computing could provide a credible, critical resiliency in today’s data center ecosystem.
Nevertheless, it hasn’t been easy to get businesses in the region to adopt the technology. “Every endpoint/edge infrastructure can be viewed as an extension of the organization’s core data center and therefore should be treated as a potential threat vector,” warns Santhosh Rao, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. As a result, infrastructure and operations leaders must ensure adequate security policies are applied and periodic security testing exercises are performed when managing applications hosted at the edge.
Although there is a burgeoning interest to embrace the tech from retail, banking, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors, edge adoption by the oil and gas industry specifically has become a necessary capability. Youssef emphasizes the capability of edge data centers in supporting the major areas of applications of an onshore field. “This can include well automation, gathering operations, separation and processing, water treatment and crude oil storage management,” he explains.
Drilling operations in oil and gas fields generate about 1 terabyte of production data per day, and each production well can generate 10 terabytes—the equivalent full text data of Wikipedia every week. Because of the amount of information that needs to be collated, analyzed and monitored on an ongoing basis, there exists currently a lag time with the cloud. Edge allows computing resources to be placed at or near where production processes occur, so there’s no data lag time.
Whether it’s an imminent failure in pumps or an early warning of potential blow-outs, the technology can also preemptively avoid such dangerous glitches via real-time continuous monitoring and analysis. This type of analysis and feedback could not be performed using cloud-based technology due to the round-trip delays, and existing systems simply aren’t built to support this type of capability. With edge, this capability dramatically reduces downtime and improves operational efficiencies, which are two key factors to properly managing and maintaining pipelines.
Ultimately, the integration of edge computing within the oil and gas sector has been a notable key digital transformation. Once challenges such as security risks and a necessary change in company culture are tackled, early adopters could reap the rewards.