Simon Michie is the CTO of Pulsant, the IT management company. Founded in 1995 as EdNET, the company has since not only swapped names but pivoted to become one of the UK’s leading edge computing platforms.
Research firm GlobalData defines edge computing as “the deployment and use of computer processing, data storage, and analytics capabilities close to the places where data is collected and where digital content and applications are consumed.”
“The benefits of edge computing include the higher performance and cost savings that can be achieved when developing, hosting, and powering applications closer to points of consumption,” the researchers wrote in a recent report. “They also include making faster decisions about data collected from internet-connected sensors on factory floors, transportation networks, retail outlets, and many other locations.”
This may sound complicated, but the Pulsant CTO believes it is not as complex as people think. He should know; as CTO of Pulsant, Miche has overall strategic responsibility for Pulsant’s product and service portfolio and technology roadmap.
In the latest Q&A in our CTO Talks series, the Pulsant executive reveals why he believes edge computing is really not that complex
Eric Johansson: Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you end up in your current role?
Simon Michie: My career began in sales, and from there I moved into a succession of technical and then managerial roles before co-founding Centric Networks. This later led to a five-year stint as the CTO for Redcentric where I oversaw the modernisation of the company’s network and cloud offerings. I joined Pulsant in early 2020 as CTO, where I take responsibility for our product and service portfolio and technology roadmap.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about edge computing?
I think a lot of businesses believe it’s a complicated concept and so are fearful to get started. I also think a lot have no idea how to access it. The problem is made worse by the fact that there are a lot of vendors promising different edge services and solutions, all of which have different interpretations of edge.
The reality is that ultimately to succeed with edge computing, all organisations need is a data centre provider with a good geographical spread of sites across the UK, maximum coverage and fast, seamless connectivity to cloud services.
Where did your interest in tech come from?
Technology has always been a hobby of mine. As a boy, I loved reading science fiction books set in the future. It fired my imagination about what might be possible and now as an adult, it’s exciting to see fiction becoming fact, especially with new technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Even after three decades, I find working in this sector continues to be hugely fulfilling and exciting!
What one piece of advice would you offer to other CTOs?
It would be to always listen to advice, regardless of your role. I would also say that after having amassed experience at CTO level, I’ve always kept an open mind and have listened to people I respect. This is often best taken from those who are free to be frank in their knowledge-sharing and draw from their own experiences. Straightforward, open communication is so important.
What’s the most surprising thing about your job?
I’m often pleasantly surprised by how imaginative and creative my team can be when they’re given the space and opportunity. They always keep me guessing and that’s a brilliant position for me to be in. Another surprise is how enriching it is. Working in B2B is not often considered gratifying, but as we enter the era of edge, being able to work on something that will enable positive change is hugely rewarding – chances like this don’t happen often.
What’s the biggest technological challenge facing humanity?
The biggest technological challenge facing humanity is creating and scaling the technology solutions necessary to combat climate change without creating new and unforeseen issues.
More locally, we do know that in the UK, some areas outside of the South East are marginalised in terms of access to infrastructure, leadership and skills. This metropolitan bias also renders it difficult for those organisations to become truly data-driven. The introduction of 5G, distribution of the cloud network and an appropriate national infrastructure will help to create a level playing field.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done for fun?
In my youth I was a bit of a thrill seeker, so the strangest things I’ve ever done for fun have typically revolved around speed! I once rode an inflatable boat down a ski jump runoff slope at over 70 miles per hour, with all the steering done via bouncing and only a parachute to stop me at the end! I also completed a 30km cross country ski event having done only three hours practice!
What’s the most important thing happening in your field at the moment?
Undoubtedly, it’s edge computing. It’s a dramatic technology shift that will have far-reaching implications for the way businesses operate, and will improve the quality of life for millions of people living in “the regions” outside main metropolitan areas. It’s already starting to transform IoT, content delivery and enterprise applications and future use cases will include autonomous vehicles, drones, virtual reality, real-time advertising and even remote healthcare. Watch this space!
In another life you’d be?
I honestly wouldn’t change a thing, so I’d say just the same person as I am now. As humans we are the result of all the experiences we’ve had in life, both good and bad.
GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.