What is Software Defined Edge

Software Defined Edge can be broken down into two elements:

Edge computing is a method of networking, in which certain processes, such as storage and processing – which most businesses deploy via the cloud – are performed closer to the devices that require them. This is done to improve response time whilst saving bandwidth. It is also done to put less pressure on the cloud or data center.

Software defined represents a new way of thinking, in which computer solutions are derived from software changes, rather than hardware. In the past, computer functionality depended largely on the hardware of each device; it now rests on the functionality of software. In general terms, this places much less emphasis on keeping hardware up to date. This is done via virtualization – the practice of creating a virtual version of a device, rather than a physical one – allowing for a series of hardware-thing devices to emulate a virtual system.

When combined, the two concepts form Software Defined Edge: the software-based virtualization of multiple edge devices.

Software Defined Virtualization

Software defined virtualization is the practice of using software versions of physical devices at the edge of a network, closest to the devices that produce data. In terms of retail, this means that the software stack of each and every in-store device – from operating systems to configurations and applications – is separated from the underlying hardware. This can be both cost-effective and convenient, as it allows for upgrade and configuration to be performed on all devices at once, rather than physically maintaining each device one at a time.

Benefits of Software Defined Edge

Reduce Costs

Reduce Costs

Software defined edge allows retailers to replace their hardware-heavy infrastructure with low cost thin clients. Furthermore, time can be saved on upgrades and maintenance, meaning no downtime.

Decoupling of Software from the Hardware

Decoupling of Software from the Hardware

Not only does software defined edge save time and money with day-to-day maintenance, it also negates the need to replace one's entire infrastructure to accommodate radical new software updates. Retailers facing the issue of their hardware becoming non-compliant due to the POSready 7 timebomb would not have to worry about this issue, thanks to virtualization.

Faster Store Rollout

Faster Store Rollout

With the emphasis now shifted towards software, setting up a store is both easy and time-efficient. Rather than moving in clunky hardware, and configuring each one, the operating system and applications can be transferred from the cloud to the devices with ease.

Increased Compatibility with New Applications

Increased Compatibility with New Applications

In the past, retailers had to expend valuable time and money to rip and replace outdated hardware to suit new applications and operating systems. With software defined edge, old hardware can instead be adapted to run newer software; thus eliminating the need for constant hardware replacements.

Continuous Operation

Continuous Operation

When a device fails, it can slow down wait times, leading to frustrated customers. Software defined edge allows for a device to restart automatically by dynamically assigning the available resources; thus maintaining the level of retail lanes available.

The Total Economic Impact™ Of NCR Software Defined Store Enabled By Zynstra
 

Software Defined Architecture

software defined edge architecture

software defined edge architecture continued

Software defined edge architecture for retail typically comprises a virtualization layer that thins out the stores, while leveraging existing IT hardware.

The breaking of the connection between hardware and software allows retailers to modernize their IT infrastructure whilst only spending a fraction of the time, effort and money.

The three layers – The Intelligent Control Plane, the Intelligent Edge and the Intelligence Edge Client –  work in unison to provide a seamless interaction.

The Intelligent Control Plane is the centralized top layer, which manages the edge servers
The Intelligent Edge is installed in each store, allowing for a middle-man approach for flexible infrastructure
The Intelligence Edge Client is installed on each device within the storeThe three layers guarantee a mix between uniformity and flexibility within each device and store, whilst at the same time removing the reliance on hardware.

  • The Intelligent Control Plane is the centralized top layer, which manages the edge servers
  • The Intelligent Edge is installed in each store, allowing for a middle-man approach for flexible infrastructure
  • The Intelligence Edge Client is installed on each device within the store

The three layers guarantee a mix between uniformity and flexibility within each device and store, whilst at the same time removing the reliance on hardware.

Software Defined Examples

Circle K is an international chain of convenience stores, operating approximately 15,000 stores worldwide. Faced with the issue of the Windows End of Life issue, Circle K needed to find a solution that would allow them to avoid the monumental task of ripping and replacing a great deal of hardware from each one of their retail outlets. By implementing Software Defined Store enabled by Zynstra, they were able to build out completely virtualized stores, and also implement new applications, such as a customer loyalty app, which they had developed.

FAQ

Why is Software Defined Edge important?

What it takes to win in retail is changing. In an era of new expectations of speed, unique consumer experiences and the importance of the omni-channel, winners must deliver a superior experience, more services and faster innovations at the retail edge. Today, retailers are confronted with a hostile and dynamic environment in their branches and stores, with ever increasing demand to roll out new customer experiences, while at the same time reducing costs and fighting off security threats.

What do you mean by edge-scale?

Edge scale means designed from the ground up for the environment that exists at the edge, rather than stretched datacenter technology. For the edge, technology must be designed for large scale deployment of 100s or 1000s of edge sites and optimized to deliver workloads with efficient small form-factor edge servers.

What do you mean by edge server?

For Zynstra, an edge server is a virtualized and hyperconverged server that sits outside of the datacenter, often in a store or branch. It provides compute, storage and network capability optimized for a hostile edge environment.

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