Edge computing: 4 facts vs. fiction (Reader Forum)
Today’s IT landscape is all about moving towards the microdata centers, as the demand for edge computing pushes through the need for quick and instant access to data. Edge computing is localized computing for systems that operate away from the primary data center. Typically, these systems rely on connectivity and reliable performance — take a self-driving car, for example, you would not want there to be any delay in the system deciding to brake or accelerate. It is precisely this reliance on connectivity and performance for real-time diagnostics that means cloud computing is not always a good fit.
With the proliferation of IoT and AI, and as more devices connect to the internet and to each other, edge computing is at the top of the boardroom agenda for IT. So, as we move closer to the edge, let’s break down some fact vs. fiction on edge computing.
Fiction: Edge computing is a brand-new technology
Edge computing is a new term, but it’s bringing back to the agenda what many distributed enterprises have long looked to achieve. Edge computing is not new – even history shows us that if you want to predict the next technology, look at what is already being used.
While self-driving cars are very much still in development, edge computing is currently solving an age-old challenge – reliable and good computing power for the business spread out across multiple locations. In other words, the remote and branch offices (ROBO). For organizations including retail shops, oil rigs, transport like planes or trains, manufacturing, and medical facilities, edge computing is providing a service that is essential to their day-to-day operations – consistent and dependable access to data.
Essentially, edge computing is any computing that takes place outside your data center, away from your IT staff. It could involve only a few remote sites, or it could be hundreds or thousands of sites, such as retail locations. These sites could be across town or around the world. Regardless of the distance, they all have the same needs and requirements including disaster recovery, remote management, and high availability.
So, it is not new, just reinvented.
Fiction: Edge computing replaces the main, centralized data center
We should think of edge computing as an augmentation of the data center being driven by IoT, not a replacement of it. There are more devices connected today than there ever have been in history and, while edge computing is required to make these devices work the way they were intended, it is not able to facilitate this without a centralized data center.
This is why edge computing is so beneficial for ROBOs — these distributed organizations face considerable challenges in working away from the main office across multiple devices, while still being required to operate efficiently and effectively — with edge computing businesses can benefit from real-time data analysis and enhanced AI and IoT in remote locations.
Fiction: Edge computing is expensive
Everything can be made to be expensive, but the bottom line is, edge computing does not need to be costly. Because edge computing is a compute source away from the main data center, its resources can be kept to a minimum. For example, in a hospital it might be a piece of medical equipment, in a retail shop it might be a cash register, and for the ROBO it might be a single IoT device. It is flexible and most definitely cost-effective if supported by the right technology. Opt for something that is cost-effective, scalable and reliable.
Fiction: Edge computing is complex and challenging to manage
Edge computing constitutes anything outside of your centralized data center size – say anything less than six racks. So, if the system itself was complex and challenging to manage, it would fail.
The reason edge computing works for the ROBO business is precisely because of its easy and minimal management requirements. Take retail for example – each individual supermarket does not have an in-house IT team, at best maybe there is one IT manager, but often there is no one at all. But there are dozens of cash registers, barcode scanners, self-shop scanners, alarm tags, de-activating alarm sensors – the list goes on. The edge computing system is designed with simplicity at its heart so that the management it requires is minimal. This means, in organizations like supermarkets, the team on hand can focus on excellent customer service rather than IT management.
So, we have now busted the four myths on edge computing. It’s a new term but not a new concept, and with it, it’s important to understand how it works and the benefits it can bring. Edge computing is definitely emerging as a hot topic at the moment, and it can help modernize traditional centers, but it’s important to understand precisely what edge computing is.