In the world of computer technology, change can happen virtually overnight. One technological shift that clearly demonstrates this is edge computing, or the move from cloud to edge-based solutions. The cloud was once hailed as revolutionary. It resulted in a massive migration of technology and services from a company’s offices and in-house data centers to massive centralized third-party data centers. As time passed and technology evolved, the ability to access Internet infrastructure became easier, and the technology to connect devices to the Internet became more compact and efficient. As a result of this we began to see more devices go online. This lead to the birth of the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT): where everything, from your phone, to your fridge, to your car, was connected to the Internet.
As IoT devices became more prolific, companies began to gather data in ways they had never been able to before. However, at this point, information was being sent to a centralized cloud-based solution for analysis — a step that many viewed as unnecessarily inefficient. What steps could you take to address this issue? It’s quite simple really: you move away from a centralized cloud and move your solutions closer to the edge of your network.
Edge computing is clearly defined by TechTarget as “...a distributed information technology (IT) architecture in which client data is processed at the periphery of the network, as close to the originating source as possible.” We mentioned earlier how companies realized the centralized cloud solution wasn’t necessarily ideal for an IoT world — however, these weren’t the only reasons companies were looking to move away from the cloud. Another critical issue was also driving the movement towards edge computing: many governments’ concerns around privacy and regulation.
Governments are becoming increasingly concerned with how companies are using data, particularly when it comes to the personal data of individual users. A very clear example of this is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU. This new regulation aims at securing the rights of EU citizens when it comes to privacy and personal data. One of the key issues that it aims to address is the export of data outside the EU, which obviously has a massive impact on any international company using a centralized cloud solution that isn’t based in the EU itself.
While this reason could be seen as ‘pushing’ companies towards an edge computing solution, not every company needed the push. Many companies saw there were numerous advantages to edge computing and decided to embrace it. Here are the key benefits that edge computing offers over a cloud-based solution:
The advantages of edge computing
- Faster data analysis - Moving the tools for data analysis closer to the source of the information meant time spent moving data from a device to the cloud could be reduced, cutting back on the total amount time necessary for data analysis.
- Lower costs - Companies can lower their costs by reducing the number of data bandwidth management solutions they need, as well as implementing more focused localized devices and solutions in place of an entire data center.
- Lower network traffic - You no longer need a cloud-based solution in a data center with massive bandwidth to cater for all your data. More information will be handled on-site or at the edge, reducing the amount of total bandwidth you need.
- Better application speed which means better QoS - Applications that would normally rely on getting information from a central cloud database would now be able to retrieve it from an edge-based solution, reducing the amount of time needed for the data to be moved, thus increasing the responsiveness and the quality of the overall service.
- Less need for a core cloud computing infrastructure - As you move more of your infrastructure towards the edge, you decrease your dependency on a centralized cloud solution to handle all of your data.
These are some of the key advantages of edge computing that companies are taking advantage of, but as with all technology, things rarely ever stand still. Experts are already beginning to see the next stage of this evolution and are labeling it Fog Computing. You can find out more about Fog Computing in our blog: Think VoIP Troubleshooting is Difficult in the Cloud? Just Wait Until You See Fog Networking.
For more information, take a look at our white paper: Core Functions of Network Edge Orchestration. You can also contact a consultant at Edgewater Networks for assistance on how you can take advantage of edge computing and the Intelligent Edge.