Edge computing is a distributed computing framework that brings enterprise applications closer to data sources such as IoT devices or local servers. This proximity to data at its source can deliver strong business benefits, indulging faster insights, improve response times and better bandwidth availability.Edge computing as such is an emerging computing paradigm which refers to a range of networks and devices at or near the user. Edge is about processing data closer to where it’s being generated, enabling processing at greater speeds and volumes, leading to greater action-led results in real time. It offers some unique advantages over traditional models, where computing power is centralized at an on-premise data center. Putting computers at the edge allows companies to improve how they manage and use physical assets and create new interactive, human experiences. Some examples of edge use cases include self-driving cars, autonomous robots, smart equipment data and automated retail.
Possible components of Edge include (i)Edge devices: We already use devices that do edge computing every day—like smart speakers, watches and phones – devices which are locally collecting and processing data while touching the physical world. Internet of Things (IoT) devices, point of sales (POS) systems, robots, vehicles and sensors can all be edge devices—if they compute locally and talk to the cloud. (ii)Network edge: Edge computing doesn’t require a separate “edge network” to exist (it could be located on individual edge devices or a router, for example). When a separate network is involved, this is just another location in the continuum between users and the cloud and this is where 5G can come into play. 5G brings extremely powerful wireless connectivity to edge computing with low latency and high cellular speed, which brings exciting opportunities like autonomous drones, remote tele-surgery, smart city projects and much more. The network edge can be particularly useful in cases where it is too costly and complicated to put the computer on premises and yet high responsiveness is required (meaning the cloud is too distant). (iii)On-premises infrastructure: These are for managing local systems and connecting to the network and could be servers, routers, containers, hubs or bridges.
Much of today’s computing already happens at the edge in places like hospitals, factories and retail locations, processing the most sensitive data and powering critical systems that must function reliably and safely. These places require solutions with low latency that do not need a network connection. What makes Edge so exciting is the potential it has for transforming business across every industry and function, from customer engagement and marketing to production and back-office operations. In all cases, edge helps make business functions proactive and adaptive—often in real-time—leading to new, optimized experiences for people.Edge allows businesses to bring the digital world into the physical. Bringing online data and algorithms into brick-and-mortar stores to improve retail experiences. Creating systems that workers can train and situations where workers can learn from machines. Designing smart environments that look out for our safety and comfort. What these examples all have in common is edge computing, which is enabling companies to run applications with the most critical reliability, real-time and data requirements directly on-site. Ultimately, this allows companies to innovate faster, stand up new products and services more quickly and opens up possibilities for the creation of new revenue streams.In the past, the promise of cloud and AI was to automate and speed innovation by driving actionable insight from data. But the unprecedented scale and complexity of data that’s created by connected devices has outplaced network and infrastructure capabilities.
The primary benefit of edge computing is that users get a better experience in terms of reliability, reduced latency, and potentially better privacy by keeping more of their data on-device or on the local network. The explosive growth and increasing power of IoT devices has resulted in unprecedented volumes of data. And data volumes will continue to grow as5G networks increase the number of connected mobile devices. For business, there are several benefits to adopting edge computing. First is the potential for cost saving by offloading processing to smaller edge devices and by using less bandwidth when moving data to the cloud. You also gain more fine-grained control over resource consumption via server less edge computing platforms. Edge computing also can make it easier to comply with security regulations by keeping data on location while still being able to provide all of the features expected of modern cloud-based software. Even for consumer products, moving more features directly onto the user’s device can be considered a benefit for a business by attracting privacy-minded customers who want to own their data. The next stage of cloud computing brings computing power closer to users, paving the way to better experiences and more intelligent applications.
From connected vehicles to intelligent bots on the factory floor, the amount of data from devices being generated in our world is higher than ever before, yet most of this IoT data is not exploited or used at all. Edge computing harnesses growing in-device computing capability to provide deep insights and predictive analysis in near-real time. This increased analytics capability in edge devices can power innovation to improve quality and enhance value. It also raises important strategic questions: How do you manage the deployment of workloads that perform these types of actions in the presence of increased compute capacity? How can you use the embedded intelligence in devices to influence operational processes for your employees, your customers and your business more responsively? In order to extract the most value from all those devices, significant volumes of computation must move to the edge.
(The views expressed are personal)