Metaverse Opens a World of Possibilities for Vendors and Channel Partners

Alaa Bawab, the General Manager for the Middle East and Africa at Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions, says data creation and computing at the edge is flourishing

What trends do you foresee for Cloud Computing in 2022?
There is no doubt that cloud computing is here to stay. In fact, the cloud is no longer a trend. It’s a firm fixture in the IT arena, shaping other trends. As many organizations are turning to hybrid cloud environments, with some applications in the cloud and some workloads on-premise, Markets and Markets forecasts that the cloud services market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is growing at a CAGR of 27 percent and is expected to reach $8.79 billion this year. Some major trends we foresee in cloud computing this year include:

  1. IoT Will Drive Edge Computing: With the collecting, sending and processing of vast amounts of data set to increase productivity and allow companies to make more informed decisions – traditional cloud networks can often stall and slow down this process. As such, Edge computing is evolving around the need to bring all that data closer to the IoT sensors.
  2. Event-Driven Computing will Take Hold: Cloud computing has given rise to many Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms. In recent years, event-driven computing has surfaced, with the most recent developments being Functions as a Service (FaaS) and Backend as a Service (BaaS). In 2022, we expect digital business solutions and new business ecosystems to require additional support for event processing.
  3. Blockchain Will be a Top Security Strategy: As cloud adoption increases, so does the need for greater security. Blockchain technology is an innovative approach that is filling that need. As blockchains store data in a decentralised manner they are able to block mass data hacking.

What sort of benefits does cloud computing bring to eCommerce stores and e-tailers?
As with many retail trends that had already been growing, the pandemic pushed e-commerce in all its facets into hyperdrive. On an e-retailer level, a proliferation of IoT devices and software systems are generating massive amounts of data at the store level, which can overwhelm LAN and WAN networks. As retailers need to decide what data is actionable and useful, edge computing provides tools for virtualization and management to help simplify the process, allowing for immediate adjustments in pricing, promotions and other operational tweaks. Other benefits of cloud computing for retailers include asset management, virtualization, maintenance, and procurement.

Is edge computing helping shape up the cloud computing industry as a whole?
Researchers estimate the number of connected devices will grow to 30.7 billion by 2020 and 75.4 billion by 2025. The collecting, sending, and processing of vast amounts of data will increase productivity and allow companies to make more informed decisions. However, with a traditional cloud network, precious time is lost with all that data transfer. Additionally, a loss of connectivity could be catastrophic if devices are depended upon for vital company or building management functions. Edge computing is evolving around the need to bring all that data closer to the IoT sensors.

Edge computing provides a solution that analyses data locally and in real-time. It typically involves a mesh network of data centres that process and store data locally before it’s sent to the cloud. It’s a way to optimize cloud computing making the transfer and processing of IoT data more efficient. Instead of the data going directly to the cloud, computing is performed on the “edge,” or on the perimeter, of the network. As more companies connect their devices, they will drive the need for edge computing.

Will combining AI with cloud services enable organizations to get the most out of both applications in a cost-effective way?
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to create $9 to $15 trillion of economic value in the coming years, according to a McKinsey report. At the same time, data creation and computing at the edge is flourishing. By 2023, over 50% of new enterprise IT infrastructure will be deployed at the edge rather than in traditional data centers, up from less than 10% in January 2021, and according to Gartner, by 2025, 75% of enterprise-critical data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud. Leading companies are embracing the growth of AI and Analytics solutions at the edge to gain real-time insights, transform the customer experience, and gain a competitive advantage.

With Metaverse becoming the “keyword” for 2022, do you believe the cloud has a major role to play here? What opportunities exist for both vendors and channel partners?
The metaverse is primarily defined as a shared digital space with digital representations of people, places, and objects. In the future, the metaverse can be a highly immersive extension of the physical world, with its rich user interface. At the enterprise level, this opens up possibilities for businesses to create a more viable, interactive workplace. However, there is skepticism on whether companies have the capabilities to pull it off. According to new global research commissioned by Lenovo and carried out by YouGov centred around employee readiness to embrace the Metaverse, two in five (43 percent) of respondents believe their employers do not, or probably do not have the knowledge or expertise to enable them to work in the metaverse of the future.

To manage an increasingly complex technology, businesses need simple and flexible IT solutions. Lenovo’s solutions include ThinkReality platform, which is powering the enterprise metaverse with a portfolio of award-winning hardware, software, and services. For now, metaverse opens a world of possibilities for vendors and channel partners.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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