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The Rise of Edge Computing

Edge Computing Adoption is Rapidly Increasing

It’s the dawn of a new era for the world in many ways, and that includes edge computing.  Edge computing is poised to grow rapidly in the coming years and that growth will likely only be accelerated now that there has been a massive global increase in remote work and education.  With such a significant shift in network traffic, the adoption of edge computing has never been more necessary.  Edge computing shifts away from depending on a centralized data center that, should it experience downtime, could be catastrophic.  With edge computing, businesses rely on more localized, smaller data centers that can more quickly relay data to the end-user.  

With edge computing, data is processed in closer physical proximity to where it was generated. Computing closer to the end-user with edge networks offers a number of potential benefits, especially as more users operate on 5G.  5G offers a number of advantages but has much higher bandwidth and that means problems with latency.  However, 5G and the edge network are both used, latency can be reduced and end-users can enjoy faster processing.  Further driving edge computing is the ever-increasing IoT, artificial intelligence, wearable devices, and more.  

Edge Computing Reduces Latency

Virtually every business depends on data centers and/or cloud computing.  With an ever-increasing demand for low latency cloud computing, edge computing and 5G are going to be critical.  By reducing the distance data has to travel back and forth, latency can be significantly decreased.  For 5G applications and AI technology to fully realize their potential and deliver the expected results to the end-user, edge computing becomes a critical piece of the puzzle.  In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2023, there could be more than 20 times as many smart devices at the edge of the network as in conventional IT roles.

Autonomous and connected cars will also rely heavily on edge computing, further expanding the demand for additional edge network centers.  When it comes to connected and in particular autonomous cars, latency must be minimal or non-existent for the purposes of safety. Self-driving automobiles will consume and process large amounts of data and when latency is literally a life or death matter, the edge becomes a critical player in the game.  

Edge Computing Improves Operations

By moving business operations to the edge, the higher bandwidth, increased latency, and ability to rapidly scale offers a number of operations advantages including reliability and efficiency without sacrificing functionality. TechRadar further explores the advantages of improved operations through edge computing adoption.  “The cloud itself has significant compute and online storage capabilities, however, with such strain on network bandwidth, it requires a different type of infrastructure – this is where edge computing comes in…Edge computing allows companies to resolve this challenge as processing data at the edge reduces strain on the cloud. In conjunction with edge data centers, edge computing can tackle more localized data processing, freeing up the cloud for more general-purpose business needs, and helping business applications perform faster.”

Edge Computing is Quick to Deploy, Highly Adaptable, & Scalable

In addition to reducing latency and improving operations, edge computing is optimal for the current times we are experiencing. With the coronavirus pandemic, many remote government field deployments have been necessary for testing, treatment, and other medical services.  Operations like FEMA and other agencies must deploy technology rapidly to provide necessary services in the event of a disaster and their computing relies on both robust computing, real-time analytics, and more.  Edge computing is perfectly suited for this application, in both established communities and more remote communities that may have limited technology resources. 

Edge computing is scalable and adapts more easily to rapid changes like sudden increases bandwidth if we experience additional quarantines.  And, with a more reliable and fast network, data centers and businesses have a better ability to quickly adapt to the unexpected while remaining reliable.  Additionally, being quick to adapt to machine learning or other acquired intelligence is critical for IoT and artificial intelligence to perform optimally.

Edge Computing is Not Without Its Challenges

While there are many advantages to edge computing, and the potential challenges will not significantly hinder the adoption of edge computing, it is still necessary to address those challenges.  One of the primary challenges faced is security.  It’s a pure numbers game.  When you decentralize data centers in favor of smaller edge data centers, the number of data centers increases.  This means the number of potential security threats increases.  TechTarget explores the issue of security that must be examined with edge computing, “The top concern is security. ‘The edge creates an increase in attack surfaces,’ said Theresa Miller, principal technologist at Cohesity, which develops data management software. Furthermore, unlike data centers, edge computing devices are more easily accessible by bad actors than data center servers. ‘It is more difficult to secure the edge, and a higher level of visibility is necessary at the edge to discern attacks from bad actors.’ ‘More devices’ also translates to more maintenance requirements. Application upgrades and patches must be orchestrated at hundreds or thousands of devices in a secure way while minimizing user-visible services. ‘The biggest edge computing [challenge] is security and access,’ said Partho Mishra, president and chief product officer at Cumulus Networks, which offers networking for data centers.”

If you can design an edge network that can gracefully and rapidly adapt, there is a significant reward to be reaped. Much computing takes place in the cloud but latency remains a big problem and with the rise of 5G that problem will only continue to arise which is why edge computing adoption is not just important, it is necessary.  Centralized data centers are quickly becoming obsolete in the technology race. Between 5G, AI technology, IoT, and the need for improved disaster relief that depends on technology, the edge network is being driven by just about every industry and we will continue to see global adoption of edge computing. 

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