As the internet of things (IoT) gains in popularity, so does edge computing — with futurists projecting that they will grow in tandem. An alternative to cloud computing, edge computing has been identified as a way to process and store data closer to end users.
But first, what is edge computing? With edge computing, IT professionals can provide data processing power at the edge of a network instead of maintaining it in a cloud or a central data warehouse. That’s why it has been considered a viable option for IoT applications, including manufacturing. With edge devices, they’re able to capture streaming data that could prevent product defects. However, they don’t necessarily replace the need for cloud computing in overall operations.
IoT and edge computing are driving the next wave of data center improvement, according to
Ashok Rao, a director of strategy for Schneider Electric. “While in the past the focus was on improving the management of one facility, the emerging ecosystem of hybrid cloud computing has shifted the management of the infrastructure into an exercise of managing multiple facilities with virtualized environments,” he said in a recent article.
With Gartner projecting that IoT devices will hit 50 billion by 2020 — up from 20 billion, the demand for edge computing will increase.
While much of the information will be uploaded and processed through the cloud, some applications will demand fast data, requiring the use of physical infrastructure that is closer to the edge versus the bandwidth required when the data is centrally stored, Rao pointed out.
“This need for edge computing will drive the deployment of standardized micro data centers,” he said. “The essence of this is that you design this once and then deploy them anywhere.” These so-called micro data centers will consist of standardized hardware that’s rolled out like an appliance. However, they will not be miniaturized versions of data centers. They will need to be uniquely designed to serve the intended purpose.
As the IoT gains popularity, the advantages of edge computing will continue to be explored.