Software-defined edge is a transformational technology with the potential to deliver the biggest impact in the retail store since the development of the electronic POS.
It transforms the cost of managing store infrastructure and embraces a cultural shift to focus on applications while retailers delegate edge computing infrastructure to software-defined capabilities. These are five potential retail benefits of software-defined edge.
1. Reduces Costs
Just like in the central cloud, software-defined edge hosts workloads in the store using virtualization. It enables retailers to transition their hardware to low cost thin clients, so the device becomes a simpler window into this virtual world.
These devices can also be made multi-functional so that in the same way that users swipe between applications on a mobile phone or tablet, a store associate could swipe from POS to ordering system to inventory control app or any other system, all from one device. Hardware costs can be reduced by up to 50%, store associates can be made more productive and the look and feel of stores can be transformed.
2. Removes the Threat of Enforced Hardware Upgrades
Software-defined edge enables the decoupling of software from the hardware. Retailers with non-compliant Windows 10 hardware facing the impending POSReady 7 timebomb (October 2021) are saved from expensive hardware upgrades as edge virtualization technology can support old and new operating systems, even if the existing hardware can’t.
3. New Stores Can be Rolled Out Faster
In a software-defined world, the entire software stack for a store can be rolled out as a single unit. The store is completely software-defined in the cloud so these stores get stamped out automatically. Software-defined edge can drive down deployment costs and time for new stores by 50%.
4. New Versions of Applications are Possible
New versions of older applications can be hosted in the virtual world that may not fit on existing client hardware. However, rather than replacing the client hardware, existing hardware can be made to access the new application in the software-defined virtual world, thus avoiding unnecessary hardware replacement expenses.
5. Stores Can Become More Resilient
Software-defined edge encompasses the virtualization of multiple computers. If one computer in a software-defined world fails, it automatically restarts on another by dynamically assigning the available resources. This increases lane availability.
Looking to the Future
To many retailers, software-defined and edge computing might sound like “in-the-weeds,” technical jargon. However, it’s necessary for organizations to be informed and willing to adopt this tech. With the digital era upon us, there’s no longer time to deal with slow rollouts of new technology or hardware. Retailers need to act fast to meet customer demands for convenience and efficiency. And software-defined edge computing makes this possible.
Many modern applications are adopting a new microservices architecture often based on Kubernetes. All locations in a distributed enterprise will want to take advantage of this as quickly as possible. Edge Computing is designed specifically for this purpose. Just as the cloud hosts microservices technology centrally today, Edge Computing will host whatever microservices technology is required everywhere else and enable rapid adoption.
Brian Buggy is CTO and co-founder of Zynstra, an NCR Company.
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