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COVID-19 pushes IT architecture further to the edge

The growing impetus for edge computing in a pandemic-burdened world

It is an understatement that the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns have dramatically altered the ways individuals live and businesses function. Reliance on networks, infrastructure, the cloud and associated technologies has never been greater, and the effect of such dependence has laid bare weaknesses in existing architectures. The result has been a proliferation of opportunities and use cases for technology to remediate the pandemic-driven impacts to daily life, namely remote work, increased video streaming and surges in virtual collaboration.

Edge computing is one such supporting technology that was already becoming increasingly relevant in a world where low latency, advanced analytics and intelligent data mining were quickly gaining momentum across a wide range of industries. As devices have become more common and require more processing power, an increasing amount of data was already starting to be generated on what is referred to as the edge of distributed computing networks. By sending only the most important and least time-sensitive information to the cloud, as opposed to raw streams of it, edge computing preserves bandwidth, eases the burden on the cloud and reduces cost. The pandemic then serves as the quintessential blanketed use case for edge computing as the benefits provided by computing data at the edge, such as reduced networking burdens and increased processing speed, address many of the issues caused by the sudden spikes in network traffic and burden on systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically accelerating digital transformation timelines for many enterprises while fundamentally changing the ways we interact with and consume data. As remote work and self-isolation measures have resulted in a dramatic uptick in the use of the web, cloud computing has become essential to businesses and people’s personal lives. Edge technology has only recently become recognized as a complementary evolution of cloud computing, and adoption of the technology has been more widespread. Previous use cases centered on leveraging edge computing’s core value proposition of alleviating challenges associated with bandwidth, latency and near real-time analytics. The sudden shift in workloads and network traffic, coupled with bandwidth constraints, has shined a spotlight on how the benefits afforded by edge computing can alleviate the challenges created by the pandemic.

Atos and COVID-19: Serve now and prepare for the future

Atos, its clients and its communities will be ‘Future Ready’

In a one-hour virtual session with analysts, Atos’ Pierre Barnabe, head of Public Sector & Defense as well as Big Data & Cybersecurity, and Robert Vassoyan, head of Healthcare & Life Sciences as well as Unified Communications & Collaboration, detailed the company’s response to COVID-19, framing the discussion around communities, clients and technology and explaining what Atos expects as the world emerges into a post-pandemic, “Phase 2 Future Ready” world. In contrast to some peers in the IT services space, Atos’ initial emphasis on “serving our communities” reflected an ecosystem-centric view of the changed environment that brought the company’s responses to the pandemic to a different level. Barnabe and Vassoyan spoke specifically about serving national governments, healthcare providers, schools and public safety officials.

In addition, Atos mentioned helping clients facilitate an increase in remote and contactless payments, adjust their responses to new behaviors and consumption patterns (such as in utilities), broadcast media from remote and global locations, and enhance cybersecurity in work-from-home environments. In all, Barnabe and Vassoyan emphasized that the company’s ethical commitment to being an active and responsible corporate citizen was not challenged in response to COVID-19 but was, instead, core to how the company managed the pandemic and positioned itself and its clients for the next phase. 

Atos uses an industry-led organization to understand clients’ business priorities

Atos leads with technology-enabled solutions and technology expertise to solve clients’ business problems. The new industry-led organization, which has been in the works since early 2019 and was implemented in 1Q20 with six global industries and five regional business units, improves the company’s ability to cater to clients’ industry-specific needs and generate business outcomes. According to TBR’s 1Q20 Atos report, “While Atos’ performance will be negatively affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, the company has a relatively resilient business profile that will enable it to operate in the crisis. Approximately 67% of Atos’ revenue is generated by multiyear contracts that contribute recurring revenue streams; 10% by big data and cybersecurity solutions, which are in demand due to COVID-19; and 23% by projects, which depend on discretionary spending and usually experience slowdowns during economic uncertainty.”

TBR also noted that “a balanced vertical mix with revenue contributions of between 12% and 20% across the six industry groups will allow Atos to use growth opportunities in sectors such as telecommunications, healthcare and public sector to compensate for growth challenges in industries highly impacted by COVID-19” such as automotive, retail, and travel and transportation.

Atos in a post-pandemic world: Atos is utilizing its industry-led approach and technology expertise in areas such as supercomputing and machine learning to address clients’ immediate needs driven by the global COVID-19 outbreak, help clients recover and adapt, and prepare their businesses for the future.