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Understanding Ubiquitous Computing and the  Intelligent Edge

18 Jun 2019


Hi I'm Mark Skelton, CTO, CANCOM. Welcome back to my latest video blog. So, today I'm going to talk about ubiquitous computing and edge computing. So firstly, what exactly is ubiquitous computing? Apart from being a big word, it’s, a concept that stems from computer science. And it's a principle that is important to a lot of the developments we’re seeing in the industry today.


So, ubiquitous computing in general terms means being able to access computing from anywhere, at any time.  And you are probably seeing this in your own everyday life.  For example, at home you might be using an Alexa device from Amazon or you might be using Google home. You might even have an intelligent fridge or a car you can talk to.

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  • We are starting to see computing platforms everywhere.  And what's also interesting is we're now starting to interact with computing in a very different way.  Firstly, we are starting to use much more natural language. And secondly, there’s much more seamless interaction between different devices. For example, you can easily talk to your Alexa or Google home device and it will then look at your work calendar to identify free/busy time. 
  • And what's happening behind the scenes is those platforms are all starting to talk to each other. This is where the industry is heading and where it starts to get exciting.


Ubiquitous Computing for the Enterprise

Now, if look at the corporate space or the data centre, ubiquitous computing is also becoming an important concept.

We have already seen some big players such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft talking about their ubiquitous computing platforms.

In the Enterprise space, the goal is to make public cloud, private cloud, hosted cloud and even Edge computing concepts, all work together, and all work seamlessly

In Amazon you've got AWS public services, VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) services, the tie up with VMware and several different technologies within the Amazon ecosystem.

If we flip over to Microsoft you've got Azure Public Cloud, you've got Stack - which is your private version of Azure for your Data centre - and you've also got Azure Sphere which is their Edge Computing concept.


Why Ubiquitous Computing Creates Greater Portability

There are a couple of key reasons why vendors are looking at bringing out these types of ubiquitous platforms.

One of the key reasons is Hybrid. So, we've been talking about Hybrid for a long time. But the problem we've got with Hybrid to-date is that we are still talking about very disjointed systems.

If you think about how you’ve operated your data centres with VMware or Hyper-V. It's quite likely you may have faced challenges in making this work with the Public Cloud piece. The truth is, they are very different platforms.  So, whenever you try to move things back and forth, whatever technology you are using, there are transformation activities.

Currently, there just isn’t the portability for workloads in the current hybrid landscape.

So, let’s look forward to where the vendors are trying to take us. And where we are heading today with technologies like Azure Stack.

The idea is that we have a common platform between public and private cloud.  And in turn, the transformation activities become less of an overhead between them.

This means you can move workloads back and forth. but also operate the same platforms.  In turn, this gives you the confidence if an application has been developed for your datacentre, it will also work in the public version of Azure.

And then when you bring in this third piece, the Edge computing concept, this becomes a very important scenario for businesses today.  In other words, having that same ubiquitous platform sitting at the Edge gives even more portability. In turn, meaning you can operate your applications right where you need to with much greater choice and flexibility.

That's the whole ubiquitous computing concept from a datacentre perspective.


3 Key Benefits of Ubiquitous Computing

So why is it important for to start thinking about these concepts?  As businesses we spend a lot of time, money and effort developing applications.

And, when you think about all the different landing zones, you've got to re-architect all those applications for, it’s a lot!  With ubiquitous computing you benefit from:

  1. Reduced Complexity: ubiquitous computing will reduce the overhead of development. Develop once then deploy to different landing zones. And by doing so, hugely reduce the complexity.
  2. Streamlined skill sets: From an operational support perspective, you need to invest in less skills because from a platform perspective you have got a common operating model across Edge. You still need hardware skills because it still needs platforms to run on, but you won’t need as many deep skills.
  3. Consolidated operations: You should be able to consolidate some skills and operationally support it with a single platform across everything.

So, the reason why ubiquitous computing is becoming important is this nirvana of portability

It's something that concepts like containers and the surplus computing models have promised for a long time. But the problems with containers and services computing is that it takes a huge amount of application re-engineering for applications to support those models.

Whereas if you can build a ubiquitous computing platform you then get portability, or easier portability, across the environments you run.  In turn, meaning you can start to operate some of those principles that Cloud has promised to deliver for quite a long time.

Ubiquitous computing is an incredibly important topic to get your head round because it's something it's going to impact us all over the coming years. Even more so, as vendors move more to these models and try and entice you further into their ecosystem.

So that's the end of the blog today. Thank you very much for listening and keep a watch on the channel as we will be bringing out more content over the coming weeks and months to help you understand some of the latest tech trends.

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Mark Skelton

About the author

Mark Skelton

Head of Consultancy

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