People and organizations have just become used to the cloud computing world and now there’s something entirely new on the scene – edge computing. Of course, for the IT world edge computing isn’t that new, but it’s becoming more and more relevant. Especially in the upcoming age of the Internet of Things (IoT).
So, what is edge computing?
As with many other IT terms, there are several explanations and schools of thought regarding this topic. Usually they are quite close to each other, but sound very different. The research firm IDC provides the following explanation: “A mesh network of micro data centers that process or store critical data locally and push all received data to a central data center or cloud storage repository, in a footprint of less than 100 square feet.”
That’s quite the precise definition. In more general terms, edge computing is computing which is done near the data source or at the very source itself. In short, it means that the cloud will not only rely on the current massive data centers, but also on the actual devices that create or collect the data and smaller additional devices on the network. This way it lowers the burden on the data centers as some of the processing is done at the very source or close to it.
What it means for the network
In theory, edge computing should make things a lot easier for everyone. It will allow IoT and other devices in general to be able to process some of the data on the fly, keeping them functional even when the connection is poor. It will also reduce latency as less data will have to be transmitted from and to the device and the data center(s).
IDC also predicts that telecom providers, for example, can turn edge computing into a new business. They can add micro data centers to their 5G towers and then business clients can rent or even own space in them for edge computing near their source. Coupled with the high speeds of 5G, this can be more convenient and cheaper than using massive data centers for everything cloud related.
What can we expect
Another research company, Gartner, also has big expectations for edge computing. In a new report the company predicts that “edge computing will be a necessary requirement for all digital businesses by 2022.” The company also expects that 40% of large enterprises will integrate edge computing from 2021 compared to less than 1% in 2017.
Transparency Market Research also forecasts a big jump in the edge computing market from $8 billion in 2017 to $13.3 billion by the end of 2022. Hardware will take more than half of that market as companies invest heavily in IoT, micro data centers and infrastructure. As a result, we can expect that edge computing will become “the new cloud” in terms of buzz words and industry focus.