With the ability to put infrastructure and applications at the edge, organizations can speed up real-time applications and processes, enhancing business agility and creating a genuinely on-demand customer experience.
Bringing applications closer to where the data is
Edge computing utilizes sensors and IoT devices to collect data, process it on board, feed it to edge servers or send it to the cloud. Depending on the task in hand, the data may be fed into machine learning systems for environmental management, for example. The combination of edge computing and cloud means enterprises can utilize distributed systems by processing data on the edge device and sending relevant data to the cloud to be processed, analyzed or saved. Take, for example, an autonomous vehicle. Processing data at the edge enables it to brake instantly if it sees an object in its way. If this data has to be sent to the cloud, latency could slow down the procedure with catastrophic results.
It is important to note that edge computing can take many forms, such as in a vehicle or on a smartphone. It can also be fixed in a smart factory or a combination of the two, such as in hospitals or smart buildings. These devices are connected to the Internet some or all of the time or to internal networks.
The need for localized computing power
According to IDC, the spending on edge computing will amount to $250 billion in 2024. Market growth is being driven by the exponential amount of data collected by a growing number of IoT and connected devices. Processing data locally instead of sending it back to the cloud can save bandwidth and produce faster, near-real-time actionable insights. It can also overcome challenges triggered by interference or outdated protocols where data is processed remotely in the cloud hundreds of kilometers away.
For example, this at-source computing approach is paramount for critical applications in finance, manufacturing, or on-boarding automobile safety.
“Edge computing represents the next wave of infrastructure modernization,” explains Dave McCarthy, Research Director, Edge Strategies at IDC. “The distributed nature of edge computing creates more flexibility in deployment architectures, achieves faster response times to rapidly changing conditions, and addresses many of the scalability problems associated with IoT use cases.”
IDC predicts that the three key industries for edge spend over the next couple of years will be discrete manufacturing (e.g., automotive, appliance, electronics, aviation), professional services and marketing (e.g., accounting) and retail. The demand for real-time data processing and insights in these industries seamlessly ties in with moving intelligence to the edge alongside IoT and 5G, for example.
“As the volume and velocity of data increases, so too does the inefficiency of streaming all this information to a cloud or data center for processing, explains Santosh Rao, Senior Research Director at Gartner.
Leveraging the cloud edge
Significantly, edge computing can address some of the security and compliance issues that have been an issue for organizations adopting the cloud. The cloud facilitates computing at the edge, providing the speed necessary for insights to be found in continuous data streaming. At the same time, edge allows organizations to filter out sensitive, personally identifiable data locally, sending only non-sensitive data to the cloud or data center for processing. This is crucial in targeted marketing campaigns, for example. In terms of security, it also bolsters defenses by enabling encryption deployment in the local area network before data is exposed on the Internet.
But there are security challenges with edge computing that need to be addressed in terms of increased complexity, multiplying endpoints which extends the threat landscape, and locking down physical access. It is vital that security teams have visibility across this breed of distributed ecosystem.
The pros and cons of edge and cloud
It is not a question of enterprises choosing between edge and cloud. They need to know how best to incorporate them into their overall IT strategy, where resources are best used, and most importantly, identify specific business challenges first.
Cloud has many advantages, including flexibility, scalability and dynamic resource provisioning. But it has its downsides. The issue is that IoT produces a phenomenal amount of data. All this data must journey across the network to the cloud, which results in latency.
Edge computing removes the pressure by moving some data analysis and manipulation away and reducing data movement. This frees up network bandwidth and places intelligence where it is needed and can reduce transmission costs.
Implementing edge, however, requires a well-thought-out plan, as it requires additional equipment and planning. Putting the necessary physical and logical security in a distributed environment can also be challenging in itself.
Getting edge right and ready for 5G
With IoT accelerating, edge computing is set to become necessary to many enterprises’ cloud roadmaps. It is essential that enterprises work out exactly where edge fits into their overarching architecture.
Edge is closely linked with 5G. It will bring several benefits, including: further latency reductions for real-time applications, such as autonomous vehicles; bandwidth optimization for large data streams, such as video; and analysis at the edge linked to machine learning, which will result in only the most valuable data workloads being sent to the cloud.
On the journey to the edge
Critically, however, edge doesn’t need to wait for 5G. Many of its benefits are available today. But there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to edge computing. Each enterprise is different, which is why a carefully designed roadmap is essential.
Orange Business Services is actively working with partners to advance cloud and edge computing services. Orange and Google Cloud formed a strategic partnership to support the Orange IT infrastructure transformation and the development of future cloud services, especially around edge computing, for example. In addition, Orange has joined forces with Dell Technologies and Ekinops to offer a universal customer premise equipment (uCPE) solution to accelerate edge network transformation.
Insight is the new currency for enterprises when it comes to getting ahead of the competition. Edge computing enables businesses to act on insight faster, closer to where the data is created, personalize the customer experience and enhance operations.
As we get more and more connected, edge computing will touch every industry. Some organizations are at the beginning of their edge journeys; others are already reaping the benefits. Don’t get left behind in the race to real-time data insight.
Download this whitepaper to learn how fog edge computing (FEC) will revolutionize traditional cloud architectures by bringing part of the processing closer to the user and the network edge, and discover in our infographic how edge computing really can give you the edge.