Cloud computing is all the rage right now in the IT world and for good reason. But it’s not alone in making massive changes to the way companies of all industries use IT services. Another technology that does that is edge computing.
The edge is also gaining popularity and has big potential written all over it. Could it actually be a competitor to the cloud? Could it replace it or does it complement it? The jury is still undecided on that, but the times are definitely changing.
Living on the edge
The goal of edge computing is to bring more processing power and storage closer to the location where it’s needed. This improves response time and saves bandwidth. The idea is that edge computing will tackle data which needs more processing power, but it’s not that necessary to engage a full data center. Edge computing can be beneficial for many use cases.
Among them are the obvious ones like IoT. Lots of sensors and IoT devices can use an edge computing setup to process data faster and send only the final results to the data center. Edge computing is also good for analytics, video surveillance and even privacy. You can have an edge computing setup that works with customer data and minimizes the data that goes to the data center, if any.
The edge is also useful for smart buildings, driverless cars and many more. It’s even possible to use it in retail and enhance customer experiences. All of these uses will need more computing power, but a data center might not be the ideal solution.
Is the edge the solution?
It depends on a lot of factors. One of them is edge computing deployment. Network operators are the obvious main players in edge computing as they can deploy the needed equipment on their networks, closer to the clients who need it. As such, the edge will not replace the cloud, but it will be a much needed extension to the cloud.
Gartner recently predicted that by 2025 edge computing will be used for 75% of the data processing by companies. As such the traditional cloud will become more like the vault where the results are stored. The day-to-day operations will move to the edge where everything happens more quickly.
Naturally, mobile networks and 5G are also important to the edge. Or is it the opposite? In fact, during the Total Telecom Congress, operators like BT, Vodafone and others said that edge computing will be vital to 5G.
“5G for edge computing is a nice to have but if you want to get 5G to work, you need to deploy a MEC box on-site as if you want to get higher bandwidth, lower latency, and so on, you won’t be able to do that from a microcell; you will need to have small cells, MEC boxes right at the edge of the network at the customer site”, says Andy Rowland, Head of Customer Innovation at BT, during the conference, as quoted by Total Telecom.
So, the edge will be important in bringing 5G to deliver on its potential. But the cloud itself is going to be just fine and the edge won’t… edge it out.