Bigger, faster, stronger
I suppose we are all familiar with the term “saving for a rainy day”, right? When it comes to technology and internet solutions, this term is adjusted as “researching for a rainy day”. And one of the biggest technology trends being researched and developed right now is Edge Computing.
Although the cloud was conceived as a limitless abstract concept, the IoT has brought up issues that start defying the limits of this technology thus making companies start to investigate how to expand the boundaries of this architecture, taking its capacity to the limit, a border point, the edge.
The computing history has gone through several stages, including both centralized and decentralized architectures, computing power being owned by the customer and by huge providers, information stored on physic devices like diskettes, cd-rom’s, dvd’s, pen drives, etc, or information stored on cloud servers that can be accessed from anywhere.
Nowadays we live in the era of cloud computing, where everything is stored in a central server, and the computing power is also there, huge computing centers taking millions of square feet and consuming insane amounts of energy. This sounds pretty centralized, and it actually is, so much that there is almost no space for the cloud to keep growing.
Everything that could be centralized has already been, so the new development and growth opportunities for the cloud lie literally at the edge.
What is the edge? Why is it called that way?
The edge is literally that, the edge of the network in its architectural design, the last device in the chain, the one gathering the data from users and the environment.
They called it edge computing because the processing of the data is to be done near the source, either inside the device itself or a computer connected to the same local network.
Far from meaning the cloud is disappearing, it could be understood as if the cloud is coming to you, since the cloud is not going to be something distant anymore, a part of it will be working inside your own devices.
Source: Network World
Why the edge? What is the benefit?
The IoT (Internet of Things) introduced a lot of different issues that needed to be addressed. For starters, statistics say 20 billion devices using this technology will be connected to the net by 2020, which will end up in every human generating around 1,2 GB of information daily. This uncovers three main issues, time, space and privacy.
When it comes to time, it becomes obvious that if we have that amount of data per capita travelling through the net for a cloud server to process it and then send back the results the device needs to learn from the given input and do its thing, that takes time and bandwidth. Time is one of our most valuable assets so it can´t be wasted, and having the data processed a few feet away instead of half a globe away is very different and the outcome will be much faster. Apart from saving time, sending less information back and forth between the cloud and the edge will save a lot of bandwidth, making it easier for multiple devices to work with a not-so-good internet connection.
About space, the main issue comes with the amount of information that needs to be stored on the cloud and how the information is depurated in order to keep only what is needed. Edge computing aims to give each and every device the possibility to recognize what information to keep and what to toss away, so in the end the device will only send to the cloud a small percentage of the gathered data, that is the most meaningful one.
Privacy issues are also likely to diminish with the implementation of this new technology. Security will be managed centrally, but every edge device will be updated and managed in a way that makes it as unhackable as possible, gathering data that lets the device know it is actually you the one giving the orders, and not someone pretending to be you.
It’s here, embrace it.
This is already more than a trend, it’s being researched and implemented right now, and as the number of IoT devices grow and evolve, the deployment of this technology becomes more and more tangible.
It is even said that Amazon is already developing its own AI chips for Echo devices so the “magic” is done locally.
Beware of Edge Computing… You can’t say we didn’t warn you.