We are on the brink of change. While most of processing is facilitated by things like CPUs and cloud computing; this technology is about to become accessible to the general population. With the creation of innovative devices like wearables, drones and self-driving cars, the closer we are to complete use of edge computing. This change, however, is not new. We’ve seen it evolve from centralised computing of mainframes in 1960 to distributed computing of client-servers in 1980, and to the now centralised computing of the mobile cloud in 2005.
What is Edge Computing?
Schneider Electric describes edge computing as placing data acquisitions, control functions, storage of high bandwidth content, and applications closer to the end user. It is accessed via a logical end point of a network such as the internet or a private network as part of a larger cloud computing architecture. In layman’s terms, imagine downloading a movie as if it were a 100MB file. Now, that’s how fast data will be received and processed with edge computing.
There are different types of edge computing which include local devices, localised data centres and regional data centres. The main difference between these types of edge computing are capacity and function.
Processing and Speed
The more IoT is produced, the more data is acquired by each device; and unfortunately cloud computing will only go so far in terms of network traffic. It is because of this that an additional facet of this technology is required, ensuring it can keep up, evolve and still perform at optimum capacity (for example, when a self-driving car needs to make a prompt decision because it’s a machine that inherently requires low levels of latency).
Benefits of Edge Computing
- Real-time data analysis: As soon as your tablet/PC/phone/etc receives data, it is immediately processed and analysed at device level, rather than in a distant data centre or the cloud.
- Reduced network traffic: Unlike with other data centres where network traffic occurs due to magnitudes of data being channelled in one network, with edge computing there is no network traffic because less data is transferred from local devices via a network to the cloud or other data centres.
- Lower operating costs because of the smaller operational and data management costs.
- Improved application performance: Apps that don’t tolerate latency are able to achieve lower levels of latency with the use of edge computing as compared to other data centres (including cloud).
For pragmatic reasons, edge computing is imminent for tomorrow because we no longer continue to create and build up on existing technology as if the data can hybridise itself. The reality is that we need faster processing and speed for every device that falls under the category of IoT.