Transforming IT to Use Data from the Edge

Learn how to generate business value from diverse data sources.

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In a previous post, we talked about future-proofing your datacenter to run SAPS/4HANA with optimized infrastructure. Having a modernized datacenter in place will set you up for successfully ingesting all kinds of valuable data at the edge and bringing it into the core of your business.

According to Forrester Research, “It’s nearly impossible to have a conversation today about the future of technology without discussing the Internet of Things (IoT), the idea of connecting real-world sensor data to business processes.”

For true success in the digital economy, businesses in top industries must be able to combine traditional, back-office transactional and reporting data with data collected at the edge using sensors and connected devices (see Figure 1). SAPS/4HANA is a key foundation for enabling initiatives like these, but it’s equally important to have a data management strategy in place that can address rapid growth in data types, sources, and volume being generated and ingested.

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 Figure 1: Data from the edge can provide business value
to a wide range of functions within a wide range of industries.

Be Selective with the Data You Collect

Connected devices generate overwhelming amounts of data at the edge, but it’s important to decide what you need and determine what you should aggregate and process locally—using a special edge gateway device—before moving any data into your core datacenter. 

Let’s consider predictive maintenance (PdM), for example, or the process of using machine-generated data to avoid maintenance catastrophes. According to the Aberdeen Group, “Best-in-Class” companies in manufacturing, transportation, energy, and other asset-intensive fields are increasingly using PdM to reduce unplanned downtime, improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), cut maintenance costs, and Increase return on assets (RoA).

For PdM to be effective, it’s important to look at the usable, existing data sources related specifically to each asset. Even monitoring a single data point, such as motor vibration in a machine, could potentially help a business avoid costly damage, downtime, and emergency response.

Start small and build as you go, so you can continually make better, more informed decisions. And once you can analyze the real-time machine data that adds the most value, you can add historical and third-party data, such as reliability models and logs, to uncover meaningful correlations, patterns, and trends.

At the local level, you’ll need to connect your machine to the Internet, deploy sensors, and use an edge gateway device to collect the data you want and send it to the core datacenter.

Planning an Edge-to-Core Data Management Strategy

Once your gateway device sends your edge data to the core datacenter, you’ll have to decide what to do with it. The “hottest” data is information you need to use right away, while “cold” data can be archived for later use.

It’s important to develop a data management strategy so you know how to process, store, and dispose of the data that comes into the datacenter. In fact, you’ll need to make several important decisions when it comes to collecting and analyzing data from the edge.

The first considerations are at the edge itself, namely the devices and appliances, including gateways, for monitoring, collecting, aggregating, and analyzing data locally.

Second, depending on the scenario, you’ll need to deploy software at the edge to process and forward local data to the core datacenter. You can leverage software from Dell EMC and SAP, such as the SAP Connected Health platform.

And finally, at the core, is what we talked about in our previous post—the modernized datacenter that includes SAP S/4HANA and optimized infrastructure you can find in the Dell EMC Ready Solution portfolio for SAP.


Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.