We need edge computing because faster processors and fatter bandwidth can’t fix everything.
Edge technologies run the gamut from smartphones to IoT sensors, location beacons and hyper-converged infrastructures. They’re appealing because they can squeeze the power of the cloud into microprocessors at the network edge. Edge devices enable real-time processing that overcomes the challenges of network latency. Edge networks also let devices talk to each other without connecting to a central server, which is crucial in areas that lack broadband connectivity.
Edge computing is not a shiny object to dive into because everybody else is talking about it. Rather, it’s a new generation of distributed IT architecture that outperforms the cloud in specific scenarios. These three points will help you separate the signal from the noise about edge computing:
1. Edge computing elevates the human experience
Imagine taking your family — kids, parents and a couple of cousins — on a two-week ocean cruise. Everybody has a smartphone that keeps real-time data on their location. If the ship has a network of location beacons, then you can track everybody’s locale, muster them for dinner and get all the kids back to their cabin by bedtime.
Cruise ships can use satellite links to connect to the internet backbone, but the latency in satellite data streams makes conventional cloud applications impractical. A remote site like a coalmine faces similar challenges: Edge devices improve safety for everybody without a real-time internet connection.
Edge technologies can help you deploy sophisticated real-time services using AI, data science and analytics software in domains like industrial IoT projects or smart-cities projects. No matter how you build an edge network, the common thread is to give more computing power to people regardless of their distance from the data center.
2. Edge projects can start small — at low cost
Edge computing doesn’t require you to bust your budget on servers, switches and cabling. Indeed, some edge devices like smartphones and wearables use microprocessors people have already purchased.
The edge is the latest generation of distributed computing, with one crucial innovation: System developers don’t have to draw up the entire network architecture in advance and provision a data center, networking gear and hundreds (or thousands) of PCs. Edge projects can be launched in small pilots to prove what works and rule out unworkable ideas. Edge networks can grow organically over time, adding and subtracting technologies as needed.
This goes back to the human experience that’s so pivotal to edge networks. It’s much easier to adapt your technology to people’s changing tastes and habits. And you’re less likely to get stuck with equipment that has become obsolete.
3. Business strategy drives success at the edge
It’s natural to be a bit skeptical about edge computing. Aren’t we just trying to sell you more technology?
Not exactly. Edge networks respond organically to people’s ever-changing needs and desires. That means the marketplace creates demand for edge services. Traditionally, IT directors have been operational — focusing mainly on finding and managing IT people and devices. In the era of edge computing, IT directors will have to be much more strategic, aligning their teams’ capabilities with demands emerging from the business side.
These three points underscore why we’re so enthusiastic about edge computing at DMI. First, we build human-centered design philosophies into everything we do. Second, our vast experience in cloud and network development helps us craft small, economical pilot projects that are easy to adapt and scale over time. And, finally, our consulting approach applies all of our clients’ business realities to the solutions we develop. Everything flows from a client’s strategic business needs.
-Michael Deittrick, senior vice president digital strategy, chief digital officer