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James M. Connolly
February 25, 2022
7 Min Read
[Editor’s note: This curated guide was updated in February 2022 to reflect new trends today and to include our most recent content.]
As the concept of edge computing has evolved, there are a few things that we have learned about what it is and -- realistically -- isn't. There's also a lot that we have learned about its potential application in a business environment.
One thing hasn't changed: A move to the edge means employing processing power and some basic analytics out to the edge of the network. There, devices such as those for the Internet of things (IoT), point of sale, and transportation are gathering data by the virtual ton.
Those processors and analysis tools can do an initial cut on device data, sending only the more relevant data back to a central location. That reduces network traffic and minimizes lag times. In some cases, the edge processors may be programmed to initiate action on the local device, such as a shutdown.
The goal is better decisions sooner.
We've learned what edge computing isn't. It isn't for everyone and everything, at least not today.
Contrary to the dreams of some executives and data hounds, not every device and data point has to be tied into an edge strategy immediately. In the real world, budget, staffing, and security and privacy considerations dictate that enterprises need to prioritize the data, applications and business use cases that can and should be candidates for edge computing. So, decision makers need to understand which data is likely to return real value.
We've also learned that the IoT and edge aren't synonymous, that edge can optimize IoT but not replace it. Over time we've also learned that edge won't replace the cloud, but that the two best work as partners. Experts seem to agree that adoption of edge computing also will accelerate as more 5G network come online.
The Eclipse Foundation says that commercial edge adoption continues strong. Its 2021 survey found that 54% of organizations are either using or planning to implement edge technologies within 12 months. Plans for another 30% of respondents fall into the timeframe of 12 to 24 months.
Yet there still are challenges to edge adoption.
For example, one logistical challenge can be as simple as installing intelligent systems in remote locations, including those in hostile environments such as outdoors or on factory floors. Also, there are security and privacy issues when edge-based applications rely on mobile computers.
In this updated Enterprise Guide to Edge Computing, we've compiled InformationWeek articles dealing with many of the opportunities and challenges surrounding edge adoption. We look at the state of edge, how to succeed with edge, and what benefits edge has to offer an enterprise.
Check out these articles and the hundreds of other informative content pieces from InformationWeek -- about IT management, careers, analytics, DevOps, AI, and more.
The State of Edge
As it turns out, reports of the cloud's death may be greatly exaggerated. In fact, Edge Computing could prove to be an opportunity for cloud providers.
Emerging technologies that leverage edge computing will take years -- potentially decades -- to emerge. The smart move is to wait for the hype to settle. OCT. 2019
The value of accessing data faster at the edge took center stage during keynote for HPE Discover 2021. The combination of the edge and cloud will speed that access.
IT organizations need to think about the architecture necessary to support IoT devices, including edge gateways. The gateway analyzes data at the edge, sending the meaningful information, such as a change in status, back to the enterprise.
Writing a disaster recovery plan has been the responsibility of IT departments for years, but now these plans must be recalibrated to failover for edge and cloud environments.
A keynote speaker on the first night of tech conference laid out possibilities that are opening up through the new broadband cellular standard.
When and Where to Use Edge Computing
With our inclination to chase new and shiny objects, decision makers might be forgiven for assuming that the edge is just the latest one. It is not; there's real value. Consider your customers, the need for analytics, and privacy and security.
Understanding how and where edge computing fits into an organization’s IT road map goes a long way toward formulating a business case for it within the enterprise.
A new frontier is taking shape where smart, autonomous devices running data on 5G networks process information that can lead to near real-time insights enterprises need.
5G networks and the substantial shift to remote operations are making edge computing a new frontier for digital transformation in the enterprise.
As technology matures to be cheaper, faster, and more powerful, it creates new possibilities with micro data centers and AI chips at the edge.
With the advent of the Internet of Things, we’re drowning in data, much of it being delivered to the cloud for ubiquitous accessibility from any device. Edge computing offers an alternative to processing all data in the cloud or the data center.
Edge computing is killing the cloud. Edge computing is another use case for the cloud. Industry experts are lining up on both sides of the aisle to argue their case. Many think that edge computing is driven by the emerging needs of IoT networks, but edge computing has far greater implications than just IoT.
Edge technologies -- such as advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things -- put processing power closest to the devices that collect real-time data and present fascinating new options for travel and transportation companies to respond to change.
Federated computing will allow for the C-suite to plan for computing at a massive scale to address the challenges of data access and while preserving privacy.
Success with an Edge Computing Strategy
The growth of edge computing and IoT will require rearchitecting IT infrastructures. Here are some options to consider before you get started.
With the right approach, organizations can capture the benefits of scalable and secure cloud-to-edge operations.
As more organizations adopt edge computing, they are also confronting new challenges. Among them are IoT and edge integration, security, support, durability and bandwidth.
IT and end users need to collaborate and agree on policies and procedures for edge security, software updates, asset management and technology deployment.
There are five key challenges to getting edge computing devices to work with core enterprise IT systems, and several ways to work through those challenges.
Are you planning to build an edge data center? Here's how to do the job right.
About the Author(s)
Contributing Editor and Writer
Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced freelance technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than three decades. He was previously editorial director of InformationWeek and Network Computing, where he oversaw the day-to-day planning and editing on the sites. He has written about enterprise computing, data analytics, the PC revolution, the evolution of the Internet, networking, IT management, and the ongoing shift to cloud-based services and mobility. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. He has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through such publications as Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups at MassHighTech.
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