Said Ouissal, CEO & Founder of ZEDEDA – Interview Series

      

Said Ouissal is the CEO and Founder of ZEDEDA, Said founded ZEDEDA, an edge software infrastructure company, based on his strong conviction that this decade will be all about edge computing, and like with previous large shifts, this trend signals a new and radical change of existing OT, network and computing architectures.

Can you share the genesis story behind ZEDEDA and where the name originated from?

The idea for the name came from my Moroccan background. The word ZEDEDA is derived from the Moroccan word for new and innovative. ZEDEDA was founded on my belief that the next major technology transformation would be all about edge computing. Like with previous large shifts, this trend signals a new and radical change in existing OT, network and computing architectures. I noticed that IoT was creating an immense amount of data, but networks were not optimized for uploading it, just downloading it. This makes it impossible for companies to upload all of their data to the cloud for processing. I realized the only way to deal with this data is to process it locally, which requires compute at the edge. After noticing this gap in the market, I focused on creating a simple and scalable cloud-based orchestration solution that delivers visibility, control and security for distributed edge computing. The platform gives organizations the freedom to deploy and manage any app on any hardware at hyperscale while connecting to any cloud or on-premises system.

Could you define what edge computing is and what are some of the different layers of edge computing?

Edge computing is a distributed computing framework that brings the digital world closer to the physical world where the data is being generated, such as within wind turbines, on factory floors, or within vehicles. There isn’t one definition of what “the edge” is, it’s actually a spectrum spanning out from the traditional data center or cloud at one end and extending all the way through to highly constrained devices. ZEDEDA focuses on what we call the “distributed edge”, which is where we see edge nodes spanning gateways to small server clusters deployed outside of traditional data centers in remote distributed locations (like manufacturing floors, production wellsites, solar farms and retail equipment rooms).There are a number of challenges to be solved at these locations, such as non-typical server hardware, insecure locations or networks, intermittent connectivity, latency, and more.

What are the current issues enterprises face when relying on the cloud for IoT data?

Enterprises face several challenges when relying on the cloud for IoT data processing and storage. A few include latency, bandwidth limitations, offline operations, data privacy and security concerns, cost considerations, compliance and regulatory requirements, and dependence on connectivity. For these reasons, enterprises are increasingly adopting edge computing solutions or hybrid approaches that combine cloud and edge.

Why is the best way to derive value from data processing at the edge?

Processing data at the edge offers many advantages for deriving value from data. Some key reasons why it is considered beneficial include enhanced real-time insights, bandwidth optimization, continuous operation and resilience in scenarios where intermittent or unreliable network connectivity is a concern, distributed processing across multiple edge devices, and mitigation of potential risks associated with transmitting sensitive data over the network to the cloud. Ultimately this drives business value for organizations, such as an oilfield services provider who implemented edge computing in order to remotely monitor well site infrastructure. This previously required a physical site visit, was heavily manual and took hours to analyze the raw data. Now they are able to provide the processed data to analysts around the globe in real time, and no longer need to send a technician to the site in-person, reducing risk to human safety.

Can you describe the solution that you have built to orchestrate and manage edge computing?

ZEDEDA offers a simple and scalable cloud-based orchestration solution that delivers visibility, control and security for distributed edge computing. The ZEDEDA platform allows customers to deploy and manage any app on any hardware at hyperscale while connecting to any cloud or on-premises systems. It is designed to meet the security, safety, uptime and usability needs of both OT and IT organizations, enabling them to focus on driving business outcomes. ZEDEDA is optimized to address the unique requirements for deploying computing at the distributed edge – outside of secure data centers, both on-premises and in the field.

What type of verticals is ZEDEDA currently focusing on acquiring customers in?

While the ZEDEDA solution can help customers in any industry, we largely focus on the following verticals:

Energy (including both Renewable and Oil and Gas)
Retail
Manufacturing
Automotive

Can you discuss your vision on how 5G and edge computing are merging together?

The success of 5G requires edge computing. 5G is bringing connectivity to more devices, generating enormous amounts of data, but it doesn’t solve the problem of what to do with all this data. Because edge computing is all about enabling cloud-native applications in distributed locations, it provides organizations a way to process the data in real time, enabling faster decision making and also only sending the most salient data back to the cloud. The merging of 5G and edge ecosystems is rapidly driving innovation, and the biggest 5G opportunities for enterprises are at the edge. 5G (especially private) will bring flexibility to manufacturing by connecting machines without the expense of running cables, enabling both equipment and workers to be dynamically reconfigured or redeployed throughout the day. Private 5G networks will also open doors for non-traditional players, including startups, to offer new services and AI-based innovations at the edge.

Can you discuss how we will eventually see a convergence of computing and networking at the distributed edge?

Computing and networking at the distributed edge unifies the capabilities of both technologies, and it’s already happening today. We see the evolution of edge-native networking infrastructure optimized for low-latency, high-bandwidth connectivity between edge devices and servers, enabling distributed intelligence, improving efficiency and reducing latency. We also see collaboration among edge devices, servers, and the cloud, fostering edge ecosystems to enable efficient resource utilization and scalability. Many of our customers today run virtualized network functions, along with services like firewalls, SD-WAN, etc. at the edge. This convergence unlocks the potential for innovative applications and services across IoT, autonomous systems, smart cities, industrial automation and more.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about ZEDEDA?

I think we’re at an exciting time right now, both at ZEDEDA and within the industry as a whole. We’re seeing many of our early customers move from initial test projects to mass deployments of thousands to tens of thousands of edge nodes. In addition to that scale,  we’re also seeing them expanding from the first initial use case to the second, third, and fourth, driven by the value they’re seeing from these edge projects in the field.

All of this depends on organizations building the “right edge” for them, which is an architectural problem. This includes everything from selecting the right silicon and edge hardware to networking and industrial connectivity onto implementing the right security profile, application framework, devops requirements, cloud providers, and more. This is not something solved by a single vendor – it requires an ecosystem of providers, and it is then critical that there be a way to orchestrate and manage the entire solution. As a result, we’ll continue to see organizations gravitating to solutions that provide them an open foundation where they’re not locked into any one vendor, and have the agility to combine best-in-class solutions from an ecosystem of technology providers.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit ZEDEDA.

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