The edge journey is well underway for many organisations as they seek to connect with customers in new ways, improve operational efficiency, and adopt digital technologies to support innovation.

The EdgeView 2022 survey from International Data Corporation (IDC) found that three-quarters of organisations plan to increase their edge spending over the next two years with an average increase of 37%.

A combination of factors is driving this increased spending at the edge. The performance requirements of expanding workloads and new use cases that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) demand greater compute capacity at the edge. In addition, the amount of data being stored in edge locations is rapidly expanding, and organizations plan to keep this data longer.

As a result, the number of physical servers being deployed at the edge is rising. Most of this investment prioritizes the modernization of existing infrastructure in edge locations as opposed to building out new infrastructure.

The survey also found that enterprises deploying edge are highly focused on building scalable businesses with investments that can contribute quickly to the bottom line. The top objectives for edge deployment are increased revenue, improved products and services, and reduced costs. But edge deployments also present important opportunities to fill a niche market or disrupt an existing market.

“Enterprises are signaling that they want the benefits of a cloud operating model with the freedom to deploy anywhere,” says Dave McCarthy, research vice-president: Cloud and Edge Infrastructure Services at IDC. “This creates tremendous opportunities for technology suppliers that can reduce complexity and maintain consistency in these distributed environments.”

“Edge infrastructure deployments are shifting IT back to a more strategic, influential role within the organisation,” says Jennifer Cooke, research director: Edge Strategies at IDC. “The IT organisation is both driving and supporting critical digital-first efforts within the broader organisation.”

Other key findings from the EdgeView 2022 survey include the following:

* Organisations rank the ability to integrate edge solutions with legacy infrastructure as a key selection criterion and consider it just as important as price in edge decisions. However, edge management strategies are not tightly integrated with cloud and core, suggesting that organizations may need to revise their management strategy as they seek to leverage core, cloud, and edge resources as a cohesive set of flexible resources.

* Organisations will continue to deploy and support many different compute, storage, and network architectures at the edge. Being able to deploy in multiple environments is also a key selection criterion, underscoring an organisation’s continued plan to extend compute resources into many different types of environments, including in cloud and core datacenters as well as in the field.

* Out of necessity and because of the need to leverage cloud resources, edge will continue to be a broad mix of cloud, colocation, field locations, and company-owned datacenters. In the next two years, two thirds of organisations are expected to shift more toward public cloud resources. But overall, all edge types will increase.

* Regarding equipment ownership, the majority indicated that their organisations prefer to retain ownership of infrastructure. This will fuel greater demand for flexible consumption models that have the opex benefits of cloud with greater infrastructure ownership and control.