Cloud computing has been revolutionizing industries and enterprises in almost all sectors. The cloud provides a scalable, efficient, and easy-to-use medium to start running your business at lower costs. With the advent of the cloud, huge expenditures spent on hardware and infrastructure have gone down to a great extent. The cloud provides a medium for data storage and retrieval and also aids in providing continuous operational and business support.
With advancing technology and innovations, companies are driving toward providing a whole new level of performance and productivity. Although cloud computing is a major contributor to this, it still has its drawbacks in meeting the requirements.
In cloud computing, data is transferred to a centralized location where it is processed and is then sent back to the requester. If the data to be stored or retrieved from the cloud is small, then there is a negligible latency. But what if the data being generated and transferred is huge? In cloud computing, with the increasing volume or amount of data, the time required to process it or the latency increases. This can negatively impact the performance of some crucial real-time applications for an array of businesses.
So what do we do to manage these huge chunks of data and to process it with no latency for the real time usage? One of the most efficient solutions for these issues is enterprise edge computing.
What is edge computing?
Unlike cloud computing, edge computing is a decentralized information technology architecture, in which the data processing happens at the source of the data. It is a paradigm where the computing is performed at the edge of the network, as close to the originating source as possible, hence the name edge computing.
Enterprise edge computing addresses various issues existing in the enterprise IT world that cannot be addressed by the cloud. With the use of enterprise edge computing, latency can be brought down and it can also reduce the amount of data that flows back and forth between the client and the cloud. Edge computing helps IT retain its sensitive data on-premises and also provides them with the elasticity, scalability, and other vital features of the cloud.
More about enterprise edge computing
Considering the huge amount of data being generated every day from the tens of billions of connected devices, edge computing has a predominant role to play in the IT world.
To understand more about it, let’s consider an example of a self-driving car. Every such autonomous car contains hundreds of sensors in it, which is estimated to generate huge volumes of data for every hour of driving. These sensors embedded in the vehicle store information such as environmental data, data related to other vehicles on the road, navigational and coordinates data, and much more.
This data cannot be sent to the cloud for computational and analysis purposes for several reasons. Perhaps most important, sending and retrieving this type of data from the cloud will include certain latency, which could prove fatal in the case of an autonomous car. For instance, if a pedestrian darts in front of the car, there may not be time to send the data to the cloud for processing and wait for the response to take actions. The car needs to stop immediately to avoid accidents. And these decisions must be taken with almost zero latency. For this to happen, the car needs to have computational and analytical capabilities of its own, which is a vital application of edge computing.
Advantages of enterprise edge computing
Real-time data analysis
Since the data is processed and analyzed at the device itself, edge computing makes real-time data analysis possible. This is very important in certain sectors including health care, the automobile industry, and banking.
In enterprise edge computing, the data is not transferred to the cloud or a datacenter, which might be geographically distant. Instead, it is processed within the device or the application, resulting in very low latency and better performance.
Reduced network load
Since the edge computing doesn't involve a lot of data being transmitted through the network, it reduces the network congestion and network traffic.
Data is processed and is analyzed individually at every device. This way, the cost of maintaining a common datacenter and other data management-related costs are cut considerably. Operational and maintenance costs can also be reduced in the edge computing.
How does edge computing matter to enterprises?
According to a report by Cisco, it is predicted that there will be more than 50 billion connected smart devices in use globally by 2020. Every such device will constantly generate data through the sensors embedded in them. It is also estimated that all these IoT-based devices together will generate over 500 zettabytes of data, which needs to be transferred to the cloud or a datacenter for analysis.
Through edge computing, enterprises and organizations can easily analyze this data at the device itself, reducing the cost of data transfers through the network. This way, the cost associated with the maintenance of a central datacenter will also be reduced. Edge computing will also ease the process of data handling for enterprises.
Edge computing is not a substitute for cloud computing
Some are under the notion that edge computing will replace cloud computing. But this isn't the case. Enterprises need to implement both edge and cloud computing together to deal with the enormous amounts of data that is going to be generated in the near future. Edge computing will reduce the amount of data to the transferred over the Internet to the cloud, but it cannot completely replace the cloud. Although a major part of the data is analyzed and processed at the device itself, the processed data must still be stored somewhere for future reference, and here comes the use of the cloud.
Do you really need edge computing?
Edge computing can serve a variety of businesses. It will prove to be beneficial for enterprises or organizations that need to have very low latency and high performance.
Be aware, enterprise edge computing is not a general-purpose computing platform like cloud computing is. It’s a specialized approach, meant to solve a specific set of problems. Often, many companies adopt technologies just because it’s new in the market. But to get the right return on investment, every enterprise or company must first decide if it’s really essential to adapt to a new technology or not. Do not use edge computing unless you have a specific need for it.
Deploying edge computing can be a complicated task
Deploying enterprise edge computing can be a pretty complicated task initially. This is because every device needs to be provided with its own storage and computing mechanism, which is costly. However, thanks to the integrated infrastructure available in the market, all the equipment needed to deploy edge computing is readily available. Although the emerging standards of infrastructure and support are rapidly cutting down the costs and efforts involved in edge computing, it still is a costly affair.
Challenges with edge computing
- All remote edge devices must be properly secured in order to prevent data tampering.
- Devices deployed with edge computing must be properly maintained and operated to ensure the continuity of services.
- Business process and the company policies using edge computing must be revised in a timely fashion.
- Programmability is yet another challenge in edge computing.
- Server management gets tougher with edge computing.
Enterprise edge computing is still in its infancy and currently there is no definite framework available to facilitate it. Even after such a framework is readily available, edge computing will still have to overcome various challenges and hurdles to be in practical use on a large scale. However, edge computing has the potential to pave the way for a better, more efficient, and reliable distributed computing. Once enterprise edge computing becomes the norm, it’s going to change how you do business.
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