The IDC forecasts the global edge computing market to reach $250 billion by 2024, with a compounded annual growth of 12.5%. No wonder the industry is talking about Edge Computing. 

Edge computing is one of the “new revolutionary technologies” that can change organizations wanting to break free from previous limitations of traditional cloud-based networks. The next 12-18 months will prove to be the natural inflection for edge computing. Practical applications are finally emerging where this architecture can bring real benefits.

91% of our data today is created and processed in centralized data centers. Cloud computing will continue to contribute to businesses regarding cost optimization, agility, resiliency, and innovation catalyst. But in the future, the “Internet of Behaviors (IoB)” will power the next level of growth with endless new possibilities to re-imagine the products & services, user experiences, and operational excellence. The IoB is one of the most sought-after and spoken-about strategic technology trends of 2021. As per Gartner, the IoB has ethical and societal implications, depending on the goals and outcomes of individual uses. It is also concerned with utilizing data to change behaviors. For instance, with increased technologies that quickly gather dust, information can influence behaviors from feedback loops during times such as COVID-19 monitoring.

IoT, IIoT, AI, ML, Digital Twin, and Edge computing are at the core of the Internet of Behaviors. As per Gartner’s research, about 75% of all data will require analysis and action at the Edge by 2022. Organizations have been debating what separates edge computing from the other traditional data processing solutions. Also, whether it is excellent for their business and to what extent is a hot topic. 

The foundational principles of edge computing are relatively simple to comprehend but understanding its benefits can be complex. Edge computing can provide a direct on-ramp to a business’ cloud platform of choice and assists in achieving flexibility to facilitate a seamless IT infrastructure.

Companies need to know about edge computing and the benefits it provides, whether they intend to step into the IoT market or are searching for more efficient paths to deliver content services. This article will address all one needs to know about edge computing and its means for your business.

What Is Edge Computing?

It is a distributed computing model where computing is conducted close to the geographical location of the data collection and analysis center, overusing a centralized server or Cloud. The improved infrastructure uses sensors to gather data, while the edge servers safely process data on-site in real-time. 

By miniaturizing the processing and storage tech, the network architecture landscape has experienced a massive shift in the right direction, where businesses can worry less about data security. 

The present-day IoT devices can quickly gather, store, and process vast amounts of data than they could before. This creates more opportunities for businesses to integrate and update their networks to relocate their processing functions in proximity to the data gathered at the network edge to be assessed and applied in real-time closer to the intended users. 

Since the data is not required to return in a circle to the central server for an IoT device to grasp what function has to be executed, edge computing networks play a vital aspect to decrease latency and improve performance. The speed and flexibility that can be observed by this method of managing data show us that organizations are at the cusp of experiencing data analysis and storage with groundbreaking convenience.

Why is Edge Computing relevant now?

Edge computing is essential now because it is an upgrade for global businesses to improve their operational efficiency, boost their performance, and ensure data safety. It will also facilitate the automation of all core business processes and bring about the “always-on” feature. Edge computing holds the key to achieving total digital transformation of conducting business more efficiently.

Edge technology is relevant today as it’s empowered by new technologies such as 5G, Digital Twin, and Cloud-native Application, Database, and Integration platforms. 

Key Edge Enablers:

  1. 5G – Speed and Low Latency

By 2025, we will witness 1.2 billion 5G connections covering 34% of the global population. Highly reliable low-latency is the new currency of the networking universe, underpinning new capabilities in many previously impossible industries. With 5G, we’ll see a whole new range of applications enabled by the low-latency of 5G and the proliferation of edge computing, transforming the art of the possible.

Moreover, Private 5G Network will fuel Edge computing and push enterprises to the Edge. Forrester sees immediate value in private 5G — a network dedicated to a specific business or locale like a warehouse, shipyard, or factory. 

  1. Need for Near Real-Time Response

Response time or speed of response is an absolute necessity for the AI/ML-powered solution, especially if deployed in a remote location or the user is on the move. If there is even a millisecond of delay in the algorithms of a remote patient monitoring system at hospitals, it could cost someone their life. Companies that render data-driven services cannot afford to lag in speed as it can have severe consequences to the brand reputation and customer’s quality of experience. As more and more data is being transmitted and generated, data traffic jams aren’t too far away. Edge computing provides the ability to boost network performance by diminishing latency. Since the IoT edge computing devices are situated locally with edge data centers to process information, the information does not have to travel as far as cloud computing.

  1. Containers

Container technology like Docker and Kubernetes allows companies to run prepackaged software containers more quickly, reliably, and efficiently. Armed with these technologies, companies can set up and scale Micro Clouds wherever and however they want.

  1. Service and Data mesh 

Service and Data mesh facilitate a channel to release and query data or services distributed through datastores and containers across the Edge, making it a critical enabler. It also allows bulk queries for the entire population within the Edge over each device, bringing greater ease.

  1. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) 

Software-defined networking enables the configuration of the overlay networks by users, making it simpler to customize routing and bandwidth to determine a way to connect edge devices and the Cloud.

  1. Digital Twin

The digital twin is a crucial enabler responsible for organizing physical-to-digital and cloud-to-edge, letting domain experts (not just software engineers) configure their applications to observe, think and act according to the Edge.

  1. Maturity and adoption of IIoT for OT and IT convergence

The maturity of IIoT platforms and Edge AI pave the way for IT-OT convergence, thereby offering an innovation advantage to the business.

  1. Industrialization of IoT Sensors

The industrial Internet of Things or IIoT sensors provides a more significant business advantage such as greater productivity and efficiency and cost reduction for data collection, analysis, and exchange.

  1. Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC)

MES transforms the topology and the architecture of mobile networks from a pure communication network for voice and data to an application platform for services. MEC complements and enables the service environment that will characterize 5G. Example: Connected Cars, Industry 4.0, Remote Patient Monitoring, eHealth.

  1. Extended Reality (XR) 

XR represents an immersive interface for work collaboration in a virtualized environment. With the help of edge computing, these experiences become even more detailed and interactive.

  1. Heterogeneous hardware and Neuromorphic processors 

Innovation for Heterogeneous hardware and ruggedized HCI / Edge devices is making Edge computing more pervasive as they process a greater volume of data quickly by using lesser power. Integrating this specialized hardware on Edge enables efficient computation within physical environments while accelerating the response rates.

Hyperscalers, along with 5G and chip OEM, are innovating at speed to capture the market. Azure Percept is Microsoft’s latest edge computing platform, bringing the best hardware, software, and cloud services to the Edge. Azure Percept is an excellent device for makers and builders to build and prototype intelligent IoT applications powered by Azure Cognitive Services and Azure Machine Learning Services. 

Neuromorphic processors and sensors will complete an essential void in the strategy by enabling real-time intelligence and continuous onboard learning—on a tight energy budget—at the network edge. Neuromorphic computing architectures, inspired by the brain, can deliver increasingly sophisticated AI at the Edge. Neuromorphic system architectures:

a. Allow devices to adapt to changes in context. 

b. Are several orders of magnitude more energy-efficient than general-purpose computing architectures used earlier

c. Excel at processing continuous data streams and deploying neuromorphic processors at the Edge reduces the delay to analysis. 

d. Have enabled rapid learning from little data capabilities beyond most conventional AI systems.

  1. Privacy-oriented technology 

New privacy-oriented technologies include techniques and hardware that enable data to be processed without exposing all the problematic aspects. Data is encrypted during storage and transmission. However, privacy-preserving tech is bound to safeguard data even in the computing stage, making it more reliable for other lines of the organization and its partners, especially when required to be processed on Edge.

  1. Robotics 

Robotics can be configured to act following signals and updates by the Edge. This has been seen in life-saving surgical procedures where agility and precision are of utmost importance. Both Edge and Cloud are of utmost importance to control the robot’s moves and executions through stored data while ensuring no lag between movements.

How Edge Computing will drive Cloud Computing

From what we are witnessing so far, Edge Computing represents the future of a cloud technology extension by making it bulletproof. Discussed below are a few ways we may see this continuum manifest: 

  1. Extension of AI and IoT

A substantial amount of computing is already being carried out on Edge at manufacturing units, hospitals, and retail sectors, where the majority operate on the most sensitive data. It also powers the most critical systems that are required to function safely and reliably. Edge can facilitate the driving of decisions on these core functional systems. When there is the opportunity for AI and IoT to tap into these systems, there is a niche for the Edge, too.

  1. Value creation by Multi-Partner / Multi-Company Solutions

Understanding and assuming control of the Edge also gives you control of the closest point of data action. Utilizing this unique opportunity to relay differentiated services can help a business in great ventures with valuable partnerships that branch out.

For instance, edge computing is beneficial to an automobile manufacturer and the insurance vendor, the companies that provide energy and utilities, and the city planners. Edge computing can offer your business new data, and you can offer more excellent value to your partners, which is a win-win scenario. The new edge-friendly data and services are processed in the Cloud, integrating with other organizational applications and data.

  1. Revolutionizes new tech like 5G, robotics, XR, and other connected devices

Edge computing is the need of the hour to maximize the returns of the next-generation technologies, as the current scope needs to be broadened anyway. As time passes, so does the need for a better technological support system for data processing that is faster, smarter, and more efficient. Their collective effect can give new features such as voice input to your vehicle or remorse operations using teleoperation. Edge facilitates the control and programmability required to link these capabilities into an organization.

So, Does Edge Computing replace Cloud Computing?

Today’s Cloud world is characterized by limited mega data centers in remote locations. Data is traversing from one device to the Cloud and back to execute a computation or data analysis. Data typically makes this round trip traveling at 50 to 100 milliseconds over today’s 4G networks. 

Data traveling over 5G at less than five milliseconds facilitates the edge cloud and the ability to create new services that it empowers. 

Decentralizing traditional IT infrastructure is at the core of edge computing and complementary to centralized cloud computing. 

Edge computing is an ally of the Cloud, which can work together to enable flexible solutions depending on each business’s data collection and analysis demands. They both have their applications. For instance, the Edge can be used better for real-time collection and analysis and a certain amount of workload. At the same time, the Cloud can facilitate a centralized hotspot for large-scale analytical operations. When used in an alliance, both can bring real-time and future-ready insights for ventures such as asset performance management and machine learning.

  • As Edge computing becomes a “cool” new platform for business computing, it will siphon some of the growth (thus money) that would otherwise have gone to Cloud expansion (but for key Hyperscalers like Microsoft, AWS, Google, it might mean more stickiness and higher adoption pull through for AI and Data).
  • In short, both Cloud and Edge infrastructures, and connected network services, are critical to modern organizations.

Distributed Cloud

One of the three origins of distributed Cloud is edge computing, making it highly relevant for prospects. CIOs can use distributed cloud models to target location-dependent cloud use cases required in the future. As per Gartner, by 2024, most cloud service platforms will facilitate at least a few distributed cloud services that execute at the point of need. Distributed Cloud retains the benefits of cloud computing. However, it extends the range and uses cases for the Cloud, making it a better version. 

Cloud services are “distributed” from public cloud providers to specific and various geographical locations. Operations that are physically closer to the ones who need such capabilities facilitate a low-latency computation. This also enables a consistent control plane to monitor the cloud infrastructure from the public to private Cloud while extending across the two environments. Collectively, they can deliver substantial improvements in performance because of the elimination of latency problems while reducing the chances of having global network-based outages or an inefficient control plane.

Conclusion

Today, everything is getting “smart” / “intelligent” because of technology. From home appliances and automobiles to industrial equipment, substantial products and services are employing the aid of AI to interpret commands, analyze data, recognize patterns, and make decisions for us. Most of the processing that powers today’s intelligent products is handled remotely (in the Cloud or a data center), where there’s enough computing power to run the required algorithms.

As edge computing continues to expand, it will continue to pave the path for various new and valuable services, applications, and use cases. 

Now, edge AI can optimize these examples even further, thus helping companies gain new ways of thinking about past business processes and create powerful innovations to transform their business. In doing so, edge AI can help companies gain a new and sustainable competitive advantage; let’s call it a competitive edge.

Edge, combined with 5G’s higher bandwidth and Distributed Cloud’s low-latency computation, is the future that was imagined less than a decade ago and is within our reach, now more than ever. What is impressive about this technology is how several technological leaps and bounds are more significant than we could imagine. To think about it, edge computing is just like science fiction materializing, only that the experience is full of greater possibilities and expansion. Not only will your business be facing a new generation of success, using the Edge will help you run your organization more efficiently, create more incredible innovations at a fast-paced process faster and derive better value from affiliations.