With the constant growth of connected devices, as well as persistent phone and tablet use, traditional centralized networks may soon be overwhelmed with traffic. Gartner predicts that 25 billion connected devices will generate unprecedented amounts of raw data by 2021. This problem will demand next-level responsiveness and reliability— and it’s just two years away.
Edge computing promises to address the impending data surge with a distributed IT architecture that moves data center resources toward the network periphery.
Edge computing topology can reduce latency for time-sensitive applications, support IoT performance in low bandwidth environments, and ease overall network congestion.
- Latency: By virtue of physical proximity, time-to-action drops when data analysis occurs locally rather than at a remote data center or cloud. Because data processing and storage will occur at or near edge devices, IoT and mobile endpoints can react to critical information in near real time.
- Congestion: Edge computing can also ease growing pressure on the wide area network. This can improve efficiency and keep bandwidth requirements in check, which is a significant challenge in the age of mobile computing and IoT. Instead of overwhelming the network with a constant flood of relatively insignificant raw data, edge devices can analyze, filter, and compress data locally.
- Bandwidth: Edge computing topology can support IoT devices in environments with unreliable network connectivity. Such environments include cruise ships, offshore oil platforms, rural agricultural plants, remote military outposts, and ecological research sites. Even with a hit-or-miss connection to the cloud, local compute and storage resources can enable continuous operation.
The more intelligent an edge device, the more intensive its configuration, deployment, and maintenance requirements. Organizations will need to decide on a case-by-case basis if distributed computing benefits (like cheaper WAN connectivity) justify the increased overhead at the network’s periphery. Gartner Research Director Santhosh Rao cautions that the costs associated with deploying and operating edge computing technology can pile up quickly. Although edge computing comes with many benefits, IT leaders will have to make sure a project’s benefits outweigh its costs.
Security is also a major concern associated with edge computing. Some IT professionals worry that a decentralized computing architecture will make a network more vulnerable to attack by creating excess backdoor entry points. However, other people argue that placing an edge-computing gateway between network endpoints and the internet can actually improve security. Because more data will be processed and stored locally, travel to and from the cloud will be reduced.
Despite uncertainties, analysts expect organizations will increasingly rely on edge computing technology in the years to come. According to Rao, just 10% of enterprise data was created and processed outside of a centralized data center/cloud in 2018. He predicts that number will climb to 75% by 2025.
Introduction to Edge
Prepare your organization for the future by training your entire team to support edge technology now. IEEE Introduction to Edge Computing is a new five-course program designed for organizations investing heavily in edge. Courses include:
- Overview of Edge Computing
- Practical Applications of Edge Computing
- Research Challenges in Edge Computing
- Designing Security Solutions for Edge, Cloud, and IoT
- Tools and Software for Edge Computing Applications
Irei, Alissa. (Apr 2019). Understand why edge computing technology matters. SearchNetworking.
Jones, Nick. (Sept 2018). Top Strategic IoT Trends and Technologies Through 2023. Gartner.