From the very first cloud platforms located around a small handful of locations, cloud giants have since diversified their cloud deployments around the world. From Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and Australia, cloud regions for most of the top public cloud players have been established in multiple countries in the Asia Pacific region.

The tethered cloud

But as enterprises demand better performance in the form of speed, availability, and capacity, having more cloud regions alone is no longer enough. Cloud providers are now extending their cloud to what Steven Carlini of Schneider Electric dubbed as the “local edge” with a tethered cloud approach. The latter revolves around delivering on-premises capabilities around relatively easy basic functionality that is easy to deploy but still have decent ROI.

“This would increase speed, lower costs, and allow businesses to keep data within their own four walls, giving them greater control over that information and complying with data regulations where applicable. The goal for the local edge versions is to use the same tools, application programming interfaces or APIs, hardware, and functionality across their local edge cloud and the central clouds,” Carlini wrote.

Examples of tethered clouds range from Microsoft’s Azure Stack which sees Microsoft providing the cloud software while partners such as Schneider Electric and HPE provide the physical solution such as servers and enclosures. On its part, Google Anthos provides a platform based on software containers and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). This runs in a virtualised environment on a standard enterprise-grade server – organisations will need to take care of reliability by installing UPS such as those from APC by Schneider Electric.

The local edge brings compute closer yet offers the ability to scale IT elastically and burst to the public cloud if necessary. Aside from reducing latency, redundancy is also increased due to the ability to shift workloads from the on-premises deployment over to the cloud. Thorny geopolitical issues such as data sovereignty are also neatly addressed by hosting it on-premises.

Enabling IoT in healthcare

Finally, the tethered cloud also enables Internet of Things (IoT) use to enhance care and improve patient safety in the healthcare sector. One perennial bugbear with connected devices is latency. While not a problem in most cases, scenarios such as next-gen robotics in operating rooms and telemedicine either cannot tolerate latency or are adversely impacted by it.

By having processing and analytics take place closer to where the action takes place, the local edge can benefit connected technologies used in healthcare and elsewhere. There are more advanced use cases, such as advanced next-gen robotics, specialised high definition video equipment to assist doctors in performing surgeries, and connected medical devices such as insulin pumps and pacemakers that continuously monitor patients around the clock – and trigger an automated alert upon detection of anomalous readings.

These advancements and more will add to the many connected technologies that are already in use. Of course, all of them will require a robust infrastructure with a local edge for network connectivity, data storage and power backup to ensure reliable operation.

Read more about micro data centres and various solutions that can enable IoT from Schneider Electric here.

Bhagwati Prasad, Vice President, Business Development, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric