As the Internet of Things and associated devices becomes more prevalent in our discussions around digital transformation, there are a lot of solutions being brought forward for how and where these IoT devices will be hosted and stored. While cloud computing is often recommended as a good solution, there is a new infrastructure concept that is proving as a better choice, called edge computing. These two solutions are sometimes discussed interchangeably as if they are exclusive to one another but utilizing one does not preclude the other as they function in different ways. The current impression is that edge computing is likely to replace cloud architectures altogether, however, it is more like that edge computing will be utilized in specific use cases where it delivers superior results.
In order to understand what edge computing is, we need to understand how it differs from the current cloud computing architecture. With cloud computing, all data is gathered and processed in one centralized location, most commonly a data center. Any devices or applications that need to access the data, must connect to the cloud-first, where it can then remotely access the data needed. The major benefit of cloud computing is that it can expand both storage and processing capacity as needed due to it being based on a scalable data center infrastructure system.
The fog computing or edge computing concept differs from the cloud in that it stores a vast amount of data or information on the outer edge of the network. Typically, with IoT devices, the data that is produced by them is relayed back to the data center, processed, and further instructions are sent back to the devices. The problem with this is that it takes time for the data to make its way to the data center for processing, and there is incredible strain on the bandwidth needed to send data back and forth between the edge and the center of the network. Where IoT devices are concerned, slow network latency can have serious consequences as these devices rely on the instructions that are relayed back. Edge computing solves this problem by relocating crucial data to the edge of the network so that edge-enabled devices can process and gather the data in real-time, allowing them to respond effectively and efficiently.
While cloud computing does remain as a viable solution, there are some instances where this new edge computing infrastructure may be a more viable choice.
While edge computing may be a better choice in some use cases, as seen above, it doesn’t mean that cloud computing should be done away with completely. It isn’t an either-or proposition, as these two network architectures can be used in tandem with one another to maximize the processing and use of data while minimizing limitations like unreliable connections, expensive bandwidth processing, and cybersecurity threats.
More than 75% of enterprise data will be processed outside the cloud and IoT edge computing will play a major role in it. The potential size of the edge computing market will increase by $13 billion worldwide within a period.
As per existing trends in IoT, most companies can consider edge computing for upcoming products to take full advantage of technology.