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Edge Computing: Why it's important and how to budget for it

Published by Lee Kelly on 19 November 2019

Edge computing has become one of the key technological concepts of today, impacting the way businesses operate on a day-to-day basis. Cloud computing has already eliminated the need for storing data en masse in hard drives, making information even more accessible. But the potential for growth in the cloud space is dwindling, hence, the need for edge computing.

Critical Power Supplies - Edge computing benefits compaired to cloud computing

Computing at the Speed of Light

Edge computing is so named because it exists near "the edge" of where information is processed. It brings data storage and computation closer to the devices that need it.

Think of edge computing as operating at the point where the data is gathered, rather than at a central location that may be a long-distance away. When you use edge computing, the data produced is fast, leaving very little time between the execution of a command on one computer and the response from another. Just compare this to accessing the Internet and think of how quickly information is returned. This brief pause is what is known as latency, which is greatly reduced with edge computing.

Privacy and Security Benefits

Edge computing provides privacy and security benefits not experienced in the cloud. When you use features like encryption, you remove security concerns caused by centralisation within the cloud. Instead, this sensitive information is attached to and stored on the device being used.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is another area that benefits from edge computing. If you only have one or two devices containing information that needs to be backed up on the cloud, you probably wouldn’t encounter any issues. However, if you had 150 for example, you could quickly run out of bandwidth.

If those devices have the ability to retain only the critical information and get rid of the rest, you wouldn’t experience bandwidth issues.

Why Edge Computing Matters

Edge computing is transforming the way information is transcended from one location to another. Now that more applications are requiring the use of real-time technology, the need for edge solutions has grown exponentially.

The faster networking technologies used today allow for edge computing systems that will increase the support and creation of real-time applications such as analytics and artificial intelligence. Early on, edge computing was used primarily to address bandwidth costs where data was required to travel long distances. Because of the growth in technology, needs have changed to reflect real-time applications that require processing at the edge.

One goal is to process data locally, which reduces the amount of information that needs to be processed in a cloud or centralised location. This saves organisations money because they no longer require lightning-fast speeds and other resources to carry out the processing.

Critical Power Supplies - An example of an edge server

Edge computing came about as a result of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices that rely on web connections for receiving information from or delivering it to the cloud. The use of these devices has increased rapidly, thus the development of the edge.

When operating, IoT devices generate a lot of data, which needs to be processed extremely quickly and close to the source. Edge computing will process the data locally while storing information. For example, an edge gateway can be used to process data from an edge device, sending only relevant data through the cloud or the device itself depending on the specific needs.

In addition to cost savings, edge computing can process and store data faster than the cloud, which enables the use of critical real-time applications companies to depend on every day.

The use of these applications is increasing and is only expected to keep growing. Because of this, the need for edge computing will continue to increase as businesses search for faster, more streamlined ways of data processing.

Benefits of Using Edge Computing for Employees and End Users

Edge computing provides several important benefits to company employees and product end-users that should not be ignored. As these new systems are deployed, service delivery and business processes will become more efficient and effective.

Edge Computing Offers a Positive Customer Experience

Placing data closer to the business also positions it nearer the customer. This results in faster data computation and better service all around.

Edge Computing Allows for New Capabilities in Augmented Reality

As augmented reality gains traction with both consumer and enterprise markets, customers will be able to engage with products and services in a whole new way. Edge computing will provide the level of processing needed for end-users to encounter faster and more vivid AR experiences.

Think About Video Surveillance and Analytics

Both video surveillance and video analytics are already employed through edge computing. If you’ve ever used video, you know it creates a lot more data than all your other sources combined, up to ten times to be exact. When you process this video data through edge computing rather than through a data centre, you’ll minimise the amount of information that is being moved across the network or stored in the cloud.

Improved Industrial Operations

Industrial operations, such as plant floor processing, need a high-speed response and a whole lot of data. Though much of that data is discarded, edge computing can help users detect anomalies so that plant operators will know how to respond when problems occur.

Plant operators will experience higher productivity as a direct result of avoiding downtime. This will translate over to increased customer satisfaction by ensuring products and services are delivered more quickly and efficiently without unnecessary interruptions in manufacturing.

Improved Day-to-Day Operations for Field Workers

AR will be used along with mobile edge computing to improve day-to-day operations for field workers who are required to use smart glasses to perform tasks and analyse data. Data will be processed on the mobile device used, decreasing the amount of time it takes to send, receive, and utilise this information.

Considerations for the Retail Industry

Edge computing could enhance the customer experience for customers by gathering and analysing information quickly, then providing them with special promotions geared specifically to their needs. It could also provide benefits to the retail establishment. For example, a retailer could implement beacon technology to analyse traffic patterns on the shop floor. Through this, business owners and employees would be better able to understand the wants and needs of their customers.

Incorporating Edge Computing into Your Budget

The cost of edge computing will vary from one business to another. First, consider the exact equipment you’ll need, i.e. the number of sensors used for certain types of equipment. Then think about the amount of data that will be processed and how many of the applications used are real-time.

When incorporating edge computing into your budget, make a list of your current technology costs, and a list of the items listed above. Once you better understand how it will be used, you can consult with other professionals on the most cost-efficient ways to implement it.

There are many reasons to employ edge computing. If you’re looking to improve data processing within your business, while saving money and expanding your capabilities, then it is perfect.