Organizations Struggle to Build and Maintain Real-Time Edge Messaging Infrastructure
June 14, 2022

Matthew O'Riordan
Ably

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Managing downtime, scalability, integration, and necessary resources are just a few reasons enterprises are discovering that real-time edge messaging systems they build in house are slowing down digital projects. It's why many are looking toward a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to keep up with customer demand.

Findings from the 2022 State of Edge Messaging Report from Ably and Coleman Parkes Research — based on a survey of 500 US and UK engineering leaders — show that most organizations (65%) that have built edge messaging capabilities in house have experienced an outage or significant downtime in the last 12-18 months.

Consumers demand real-time information such as live chat, order delivery tracking, and document collaboration. They expect to flip a switch and have real-time, reliable information in hand. The applications for real-time edge messaging are endless, from live sports to the service industry, but in all areas, enterprises will have to prioritize its functionality to maintain the consumer experience.

Most of the current in-house real-time messaging services simply aren't cutting it. Though most organizations (89%) agree that this capability will serve as a competitive advantage in the future, many have found the reality of the infrastructure to be less than manageable.

Time-Consuming, Resource-Intensive

More than half of respondents (53%) said completing an infrastructure project took 3.5 months longer than expected, and 52% said it took 10.2 "person-months" to build infrastructure in house. The main challenges cited were project costs (46%), development time overrun/late project delivery (41%), and the overall solution being too difficult to use or update (38%).

Costly to Build, Expensive to Maintain

In addition to being time-consuming, the infrastructure to support live and collaborative experiences can be costly to build and very expensive to maintain. According to survey respondents, more than half (55%) of all self-built real-time data platforms require $100,000 to $200,000 a year in upkeep. And 46% of respondents said the cost of the overall project is a significant challenge.

Moving to PaaS

For most organizations, the challenges of edge messaging infrastructure will only increase with demand and compound technical debt. As a result, many see the benefits of switching to a PaaS. Utilizing a managed service provider over shifting in-house resources would boost user experience, improve the scalability necessary to deliver new experiences and capabilities, and enable organizations to shift engineering bandwidth back to core product work. A majority (60%) say switching would create a more stable and dependable infrastructure, while over half (56%) say it would reduce risk when scaling infrastructure.

Delivering these shared live and collaborative experiences will separate business winners from the rest. If organizations fail to find ways to simplify and speed up these experiences, they'll drag down digital transformation at the precise time it needs to accelerate. Without a reliable PaaS to manage real-time edge messaging, enterprises risk being left in the digital past as the world moves toward more collaborative and shared global experiences.

Matthew O'Riordan is CEO and Co-Founder of Ably
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