Technology moves at a breakneck pace, and at certain times, several elements merge, empowering businesses to use their computers in new and more sophisticated, more efficient ways. Such a change is now taking place with the emergence of edge computing.
Historically, businesses employed Information Technology (IT) professionals who bought, installed, and maintained computer hardware, software, and networking equipment. Public cloud computing became popular because vendors, like SAP, took on infrastructure installation and maintenance. Edge is a third system deployment option. In this distributed computing model, some processing occurs near the physical location where data are created rather than on a data center server or in the cloud.
Why would a company be interested in such a model?
Traditionally, computer processing power has gotten smaller, moving from large mainframe systems to PCs and smartphones. Edge is the next iteration on that theme, usually relying on intelligent sensors, dubbed the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These products generate, collect, and correlate data increasingly in near real-time. Because these devices place intelligence in new locations, they offer corporations new capabilities, ranging from monitoring a person’s heart rate to measuring the wear and tear on a factory floor conveyor belt.
Due to the emergence of technology, the volume of data collected by companies is growing at a mind-boggling rate. 55.7 billion connected IoT devices will generate 73.1 zettabytes (ZB, a zettabyte is 1 trillion gigabytes) of data by 2025, up from 18.3 ZB in 2019, according to International Data Corp. (IDC).
As data volumes grow, new challenges arise. Moving all of the information from the source to the destination involves adding a great deal of bandwidth and processing power to enterprise networks. Edge does some (most in some instances) of the processing close to the origination point and sends only consolidated data to the data center.
Edge delivers many benefits
- Cut latency. Time is needed for data to travel from a device to where analysis is performed and to return with the results. Moving information closer to the endpoint lowers response times.
- Reduce network bandwidth. Sending consolidated information rather than a complete data set chews up less bandwidth.
- Lower network costs. Networking costs drop because companies transmit less information.
- Support mission-critical applications. Processing is so quick that enterprises can deploy real-time applications that demand instantaneous results.
- Gain offline availability. There is no guarantee that the network is always available or reliable with other deployment options. An edge system processes information even if the enterprise network is down.
- Meet compliance regulations. New mandates, like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), limit where information can be stored, and less movement means fewer potential problems.
Many emerging applications could benefit from this design, like autonomous cars, augmented or virtual reality, industrial automation, predictive maintenance, and video monitoring. Because of these benefits, the edge’s future appears bright. In 2018, only 10 percent of corporate data were created outside of legacy systems or the cloud, but in 2025, about 75 percent of all data will be built at the edge, according to Gartner.
Computer technology is constantly evolving. Cloud has become an increasingly popular alternative to legacy computing. Edge offers companies a new variation on computing deployment models, one that fits many emerging applications and seems destined to become an essential element in building enterprise systems.