Around the world, edge computing is transforming the way that data is being handled, processed, and routed to users. With as much as 75 per cent of data expected to be created at the edge within the next few years, it is no wonder that interest in edge computing is on the rise.

Rise of remote learning

One push factor behind edge computing is remote learning, according to Jeff Chabot of Schneider Electric, who noted that investments in online-related education technologies were already on the increase even before the pandemic. Tools on this front include video conferencing, online services that facilitate remote learning, virtual tutoring, and language apps.

Indeed, global investments in EdTech reached $18.66 billion (USD) in 2019, and the overall market for online education is projected to reach $350 billion by 2025. The pandemic has of course accelerated this shift, with demand skyrocketing as more than 1.2 billion children see their education affected by school closures. Indeed, Asia Pacific countries such as China and Singapore had at one stage instructed all its students to resume their studies through online platforms.

The move to online learning was done very rapidly, in most cases with little or no preparation, scant training, and often with inadequate backend resources and network bandwidth. While some are concerned about the poor user experience that will constrain future growth, others think that a “hybrid” model of education will eventually emerge, noted the World Economic Forum.

Ultimately, there is little doubt that the pandemic has forever changed the face of education. The future classroom will likely entail a combination of online and in-class scenarios where staggered student attendance schedules and social distancing to reduce the risk of infection.

Enhancing the edge and network

Of course, supporting this hybrid model requires heightened system resilience and availability. From primary schools to universities and even private institutes conducting degree and specialist courses, IT must pivot to meet this shifting demand by relooking their data centre deployments.

This might mean that educational institutions will have to double down on their investments in networking equipment and infrastructure capabilities around power and cooling to maintain their uptime despite the crushing demand.

For IT support teams, the focus will be on both bandwidth and systems availability. To support a potential explosion of rich media being transferred across their networks, educational institutions will have to invest in both more bandwidth, advanced networking equipment, and compute capabilities.

A robust edge platform should offer the following capabilities:

  • Remote monitoring of everything from server room power, cooling, and IT equipment, in the event of IT employees being forced to work from home
  • Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to provide backup power should a power glitch occur. Preferably with the ability to reboot equipment remotely, like the APC Smart-UPS offered by Schneider Electric.

To learn more about how educators and their IT staffs can better prepare to accommodate expanded online learning environments, download either our “Higher education, meet high-performance computing” or “Online learning in unprecedented times” brochure.

Both resources offer practical advice to IT and educational administrators on strengthening IT infrastructure to adapt to a hybrid educational approach.

Article by Michael Kurniawan, Vice President – Singapore, Malaysia & Brunei, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric