Edge computing has the ability to address issues that evolve from today’s ever-increasing amounts of data and has endless possibilities.
The significant growth of smart devices has put pressure on internet infrastructure, forcing cloud-based businesses to adapt and find new methods to serve their consumers. Edge computing, which involves storing and processing data as near to the end-user as possible, is a fast-growing business striving to keep up with this unprecedented demand.
By definition, Edge computing is a distributed computing model that brings computation, data storage, and power closer to the point of action during an event. While the concept existed and had been on the priority list of IT organizations for quite some time, it started taking over the enterprise segment, especially in the new normal ushered by the COVID-19 pandemic and is relevant in the world we are currently living in.
The enterprise edge
According to Gartner, by 2025, nearly 75% of the enterprise-generated data gathered will be processed out of the cloud, mostly using edge computing. Edge computing is certainly one of the efficient alternatives as much of the generated data does not travel via network to a cloud or a data centre for processing. Edge computing allows faster and less restrictive data analysis, by creating the opportunity for deeper insights, faster response times, and improved customer experiences.
As per reports, the global edge computing market, which in 2019 valued at $3.5 billion dollars, will reach up to $43.4 billion dollars by 2027.
Sunil Gupta, Co-founder & CEO, Yotta Infrastructure believes that through 2022, edge computing will continue to usher in exciting possibilities for enterprises by reducing latency and processing large volumes of data in a cost-efficient and sustainable way.
“In addition, it will provide opportunities in businesses where IoT is dependent on the Cloud to implement machine learning and complex programs,” he says.
According to Gupta, “Enterprises, telecom companies and cloud service providers will increasingly invest in edge computing for applications like faster video streaming, factory automation, tele-medicine; and to enable new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). This indicates massive opportunity for data centre providers.”
Edge computing has the ability to address issues that evolve from today’s ever-increasing amounts of data. Customers’ expectations for immersive real-time interactions are growing constantly, hence the boundaries between the physical and digital environment are experiencing a sharp decline. The immense development of numerous IoT devices is successfully generating unparallel amounts of data.
Also, as millions of workers shifted out of enterprise hubs into more remote locations, they put a strain on networks, creating increased latency and a greater need for computer power, capacity, and storage closer to the new network edge.
In a recent article on CXOToday, Dave Russell, VP of Enterprise Strategy and Rick Vanover, Senior Director of Product Strategy at Veeam mention, “It’s not just workers connecting on Zoom occupying this new edge. Video editors working from home are transmitting huge files, schools are engaging thousands of students in online classes, and physicians are conducting remote health visits where high-res images are posted and circulated. Investing in edge solutions that process data locally and enable more seamless connections avoids having to slog through increasingly overburdened public networks.”
At present, the adoption of 5G has created a situation wherein edge computing is not just a mere option, but a necessity, believe experts.
“5G implementations will play a vital role in edge data center investments, and in 2022 we expect to see consumption-based models, edge computing, and a multi-cloud environments flourish, says Srinivas Rao, Senior Director, System Engineering, Dell Technologies, India. As IT infrastructure becomes more distributed, successful organizations’ focus will remain on simplifying and modernizing, while reducing infrastructure costs.
Experts believe a drastic change from cloud computing to edge computing will occur in 2022, in which organizations will use new paradigms to execute their processes and systems at the network’s edge. They will benefit from cloud-like convenience without sacrificing performance—effective data management by efficiently distributing data to user locations, comments Rao.
He believes, edge computing will also help organizations overcome the IT staffing shortage, as it eliminates the requirement for a dedicated IT team to maintain and control remote branch offices.
The security conundrum
Despite the many benefits of edge computing to businesses, concerns linger around monitoring, maintenance, and security. As Dhananjay Ganjoo, Managing Director, F5, warns, “It is expected that in the coming years’ attackers will capitalize on seams in edge by targeting quantum of sites and devices, gaps introduced in the application and network security controls with manual implementation across sites and lack of observability and central management,”
However, Gupta believes, in these risks also lie the opportunities. These concerns can be addressed by highly sophisticated AI/ML powered applications that can track the health of each IT component. If cyber attacks and security are a risk factor, there is an inherent opportunity for solution providers to come up with data-powered, automated response systems.”
Ganjoo adds, ‘Now’ is the most apt time for security leaders to meet the edge security challenges head-on and design proactively. The future outlay is clear for the edge. Customers want to access their data quickly, reliably, and securely, hence edge computing satisfies these growing demands, and it will grow immensely in the years.”
The future looks bright
Currently, Edge computing that integrates AI, IoT, and 5G, is expected to fetch added value to the enterprise. Harnessing the value of data with edge computing will not only lower workloads but optimize networks and services to deliver flexible offerings to customers.
As devices get smarter, sending more data, and frequently transferring ephemeral data that does not need to be stored in the cloud, companies and customers both desire quick, dependable, and secure access to their data. No wonder then that the future looks bright for edge computing, as Rajaneesh Kini, Senior VP & CTO at Cyient mentions, “The year 2022 will see a lot more integration of (these) technology solutions and a human-centric approach to innovation.”
“As we move forward, successful business leaders will embrace human ingenuity and augment it with technology disruptions like Edge AI-enabled automation. Edge AI solutions will have a deep impact in five key areas that will shape the future of industries – augmentation and human well-being, smart operations, intelligent transport, sustainability and lastly the future of mobility and space travel,” he says.
For example, several space efforts now use edge computing, to enhance communications between Earth and the cosmos. For space-based systems, edge computing can save both time and energy, believe IBM researchers. “If we can speed up communication with our far-flung space explorers, it will accelerate how much we can learn and discover,” says Naeem Altaf, an IBM distinguished engineer and CTO of its Space Tech team.
HPE too is delivering edge computing technologies targeted for harsh, remote environments on earth such as oil and gas refineries, manufacturing plants or on defense missions, to space. Some of the experiments that its edge systems are empowering include, modeling dust storms on Earth, medical imaging using ultrasound, and analyzing lightning strike patterns. “Edge computing provides core capabilities for unique sites that have limited or no connectivity, giving them the power to process and analyze data locally and make critical decisions quickly,” said Shelly Anello, General Manager, Converged Edge Systems at HPE.
Again, retailers, for instance, can use edge devices with web caching functions to replicate online customer experiences in the physical world. They can capture customer information, apply insights from shopping patterns, process connections in real time and be ready to serve the customer better at key points of the buying journey.
Opportunities are endless for the enterprise in 2022 and beyond. Gupta agrees, “Through 2022, edge computing will continue to usher in exciting possibilities for enterprises by reducing latency and processing large volumes of data in a cost-efficient and sustainable way,” he says.