In recent years, we’ve witnessed a massive shift from on-premise infrastructures to cloud computing. This has been largely driven by organizations removing the shackles which come with fixed-location servers and access computing resources from anywhere and at any time.
By 2020, it’s estimated there will be more than 30 billion IoT devices, producing vast volumes of data traffic, which has been growing at a steep rate for many years and shows no signs of slowing down. All this traffic must be processed to deliver any tangible value. And, increasingly, more organizations are choosing to perform the processing at the edge of the cloud.
What’s Edge Computing?
Cloud computing has many important benefits. But, it’s not efficient when it comes to processing data from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. Why? Because the data must first be transferred to the cloud before it can be analyzed and sent back to the original IoT device. Even the slightest slowdown or network glitch can have far-reaching consequences and lead to a significant loss of performance.
Edge computing removes the need to send data halfway around the world for processing. The connected devices locally process the data and share it with the data center only when necessary. Suddenly, organizations don’t have to waste valuable resources to build an infrastructure capable of transferring vast quantities of data in real-time just to feed it back into the same machines producing it.
3 Advantages of Edge Computing
Edge computing addresses several problems plaguing organizations, which depend on a large number of connected resources and the data they produce.
Data travels fast on the internet—approximately 60 percent of the speed of light in a vacuum, when it comes to fiber optic networks. But, there are many IoT use-cases showing even a few milliseconds can be the difference between success and failure, such as the connected hospitals of the future. Edge computing removes the need for data to make a roundtrip to the cloud, reducing latency and allowing for faster responses.
The internet is surprisingly fragile. Data packets can get lost as they hop from one server to the next. Processing data right at the edge creates a welcome redundancy and ensures no data loss or operational failure in the event of limited internet connectivity. Edge computing allows such mission-critical operations like chemical plants to leverage the cloud, without compromising their business uptime.
Hackers constantly look for ways to capture data in transit between devices and remote servers. While reliable security mechanisms protect data from being captured and analyzed, the only way to absolutely guarantee data won’t fall into the wrong hands is to locally process them. Edge computing allows for that, making it easier for organizations to achieve regulatory compliance.
Edge computing has many advantages over the cloud. But, it’s unlikely to ever replace it. Instead, edge computing will complement the cloud. It helps organizations make the most out of their IoT devices. They can enjoy the benefits associated with local computing, such as reduced latency, redundancy and improved security, as well as the benefits associated with cloud computing.