Once upon a time, in a faraway land known as 1980, businesses had barebones computers, so-called dumb terminals, connected to a mainframe that took care of computing workloads and data storage. Today, dumb terminals have made a comeback in the form of smartphones, tablets and other internet-connected devices that are prime for a new paradigm — edge technology.
Computing on the edge is a method of improving data processing that takes place at or near the physical location of the user or the source of the data, which results in lower latency and saves bandwidth. This distributed cloud model is ideal for enterprises with demanding requirements for speed, scalability, availability and security.
Chick-fil-A, for example, is a very successful company because of its delicious food and edge computing. The fast-food giant re-engineered its ordering platform to process customers twice as fast using an edge platform. According to InfoWorld, 50% of organizations plan to deploy edge computing within the next 18 months because they recognize its worth. Processing at the edge is here — now let’s dig deeper into what is giving it liftoff.
The most exciting edge innovations ahead will be driven by AI. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are proliferating, along with associated data generation and the ability to use AI to turn that data into tangible business value. This means the edge must be smart. AI is critical to manage the complexity of the next-generation grid built using distributed compute architecture. If we look at just the network, AI is paramount to automation and optimization. Real-time, intelligent decision-making is required to support traffic characterization, meeting end-to-end quality of service.
Edge computing is the key to achieving the promise of 5G. Faster networking technologies are allowing for edge computing systems to accelerate the creation or support of real-time applications such as video processing and analytics, autonomous cars and drones, robotics and gaming. Services such as Cox Edge provide the performance required for the next wave of digital transformation experiences.
Edge computing has the advantage of sending less data through the internet, making it more difficult to breach. Edge devices are meant to retain some or even all functionality offline. Companies can reduce risks by disallowing direct connections between edge devices and the cloud. That means data is protected behind multiple layers of security such as encryption and multi-factor authentication.
Running algorithms and analyzing data at the edge can be used to increase crop yield, reduce greenhouse gases, fight wildfires or improve public transportation. Utility companies could benefit from being able to act faster in case of emergencies. Low latency would improve processes and the quality of products for manufacturers. Microseconds can save millions of dollars in wasted raw materials or damaged equipment.
Although edge computing has its advantages, there are challenges such as a resource and design commitment. However, the momentum is clearly moving in the direction of far more flexibility at the corporate edge. There is no stopping the impact edge could have on our everyday lives.
To learn more about edge computing, connect with our friends at Cox Business.