The age of digitalization has opened a Pandora’s Box in the human brain. Earlier our thoughts were just limited to smart phones, smart watches and so on, but today our imagination goes beyond. From smart-eyeglasses to driverless cars, we have imagined it all. The idea of autonomous vehicles isn’t really new to us; in fact, with the way technology is advancing it is pretty believable. But the question arises, how can we be so sure that these driverless vehicles will be reliable and not cause any accident? Well, with edge computing, these types of real-time applications are becoming really possible to achieve. It isn’t just the autonomous vehicles, where edge computing is used, from the wearable on our wrists, to the computers parsing intersection traffic flow, from smart utility grid analysis to safety monitoring of oil rigs, edge computing is used everywhere. Sectors such as the medicine field, gaming, etc have been benefiting a lot from edge computing.
Now, what is edge computing? Explaining this term to a non-technical audience can be tough. At its simplest, edge computing is the practice of capturing, processing and analyzing data near where it is created. For edge devices to be smart, they need to process the data they collect, share timely insights and if applicable, take appropriate action. With the help of edge computing, edge devices are able to perform the said function without the need to transport data into another server environment.
So now, the question arises, why do we need edge computing?
Getting straight to the answer, there has been unprecedented growth in several areas such as IoT, wireless networks, the number of edge devices and the data generated from the edge. IoT or Internet of Things is all about connecting everything and everyone around us to each other. During the last few years, the field has gained huge growth, with smart stores and smart cities being the latest edition. If we move on to wireless networks, the growing population and customer requirements have already stretched the web of wireless networks from our homes to the corporate buildings. Faster connectivity and increase in number of smart devices means that the number of edge devices and the data they generate are rising hypersonically. What this implies is that the centralized data processing models or cloud computing won’t be efficient to handle this amount of data generated by the edge. Traditional cloud computing services have several disadvantages when it comes to IoT. Factors of latency, bandwidth, energy consumption, security of data raise concern in cloud computing. Therefore, the need of the hour is edge computing, which reduces latency and increases availability and secures data.
Edge computing is undoubtedly empowering the next wave of digital transformation. According to a report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide spending on edge computing will reach $250.6 billion in 2024 with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5%”. Moreover, if we look at the commotions around us, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, everything went online and to cloud technologies. Industries of each sort turned to use the cloud technologies to keep their business in the games, and those who were not familiar with it had to start considering it. Therefore, it is safe to say that cloud and edge computing have been playing an important role for us. Even though we have now entered the post-covid era, these transformations do not seem to fully go away, hence it is clear that the concept of edge computing is here to stay and will most definitely evolve in the near future.
Since we are speaking about the COVID-19 during the edge computing era, let us understand more how the pandemic has shaped it for the post covid times.
With our entry in the post-covid era, edge computing is coming to a forefront as a necessary component of network infrastructure. It aims to support the workforce, with providing a competitive advantage to other technologies such as 5G and the AI.
1. The post-crises recovery is the prime concern for many IT firms. The pandemic shifted the businesses to an edge, by creating a dramatic change in their network traffic patterns and producing significant amounts of data being generated across disparate devices in multiple locations. As a result, most firms approach to re-establish them was to become accessible, deliverable and enabled anywhere. With a newly distributed workforce likely to become a norm, the need for them was to deploy technology that can provide the same level of network performance at home as in the office environment.
This is where edge computing comes to the rescue. By decentralizing compute, it not only reduces pressure on data centers and service provider networks but also preserves bandwidth and enables real-time processing closer to the users and devices, rather than sending data to more central locations in the cloud.
2. While attaining the post-covid recovery is necessary, staying in the game is important too. Businesses which are looking to revive the revenue lost from last year, one benefit edge can provide them is the ability to process and make use of data faster than ever before and at much lower costs. For example, in manufacturing where optimizing both yield and product quality are paramount, edge computing can support with precision monitoring of the production line right on the factory floor.
The art of having actionable business insights also enables swift operational responsiveness to unforeseen events. Real-time data processing at the edge enables the gathering of more immediate data from connected systems and devices. The ability to analyse data at the point of creation, rather than send it to the cloud, leads to faster reactions from leaders and ultimately more informed decision-making within the business.
3. Companies which are making use of the next-gen technologies, including smart-wears, IoT or AI, need to implement edge computing solutions. Because of its ability to support local, real-time data processing, having an edge is key to grasping the opportunities that these data- and performance-intensive technologies present. For IoT and smart wears, which are experiencing a gradual increase, edge will provide them a smarter supply chain and improved worker’s safety and productivity. It can also help in reducing the strain on an enterprise’s network, thereby reducing or eliminating potential latency.
In case of AI powered applications, edge computing comes completely handy. Both AI and edge computing go hand-in-hand. AI modelling development requires a huge amount of data and compute power, which edge can provide.
4. The pandemic has made us realize the power of connectivity, be it for learning, working or just entertainment. Businesses are continuously trying to establish the best digital experience for their employees as well as customers. 5G has the ability to provide this experience, as it also expected to play a key role in global economic recovery for kick-starting some of the sectors whose growth slowed during the pandemic. Much like IoT, AI and wearable, edge and 5G is a match made in network heaven. To render the 5G vision of connecting millions of devices with ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability – and at reduced costs – requires edge computing. To achieve said low latency necessary for many 5G-powered use cases, edge computing significantly reduces the physical distance that data has to travel for processing, ultimately limiting lag or delay.
Ultimately, edge computing solutions have become a must for every business, considering that every sector is trying its best to climb up the ladder of growth after facing the devastating impact of pandemic. It won’t be long that this new wave of digital transformation strikes us and edge becomes a commonplace for every organization.
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