Since the advent and mass adoption of the cloud, enterprises have been in various states of digital transformation – moving all of their data to the cloud, or, more likely, adopting a hybrid cloud strategy where a combination of public and private cloud environments – like an on-premises data center, and a public cloud computing environment – have been the preferred choice. The ease of migrating workloads, the benefits of economies of scale, and the ubiquity of the cloud mean that utilizing it on some level makes sense for most modern organizations. In fact, the state of cloud adoption today is not ‘if’ but ‘how much.
The nature of public, private, or even hybrid cloud is that the compute, networking, and storage stays put, in a repository, however near or far from the applications it serves. This centralized computing paradigm is still the de facto standard when anyone talks about “the cloud.” When information is needed or stored, it is from the cloud that it is called upon. And it travels from wherever that cloud is located to the end-user, which can take time (see: “latency”).
With the rise of IoT use cases such as smart cities and personalized healthcare applications, along with a growing distributed workforce in a post-pandemic era, the need for computing closer to the source has become increasingly necessary. It is the distributed and decentralized nature of edge computing that has prompted a sharp increase in adoption over the past several years.
Edge computing is an architecture that enables data to be processed and utilized at the borders – or edge – of a network, as close to the end-user as possible. As global enterprises and end-users push closer and closer to the predicted 75 percent of enterprise data created at remote sites by branch offices, mobile devices, and IoT-enabled smart devices – enterprises are looking to deploy computing at the network edge more today than ever before.
Edge computing’s rise and importance are playing out in a number of ways –- including how it provides improved response times and supports the constant availability of an application.
Improved Response Times
Moving data-intensive workloads can fully occupy network resources. For some use cases, it just makes sense to process data near its source. The primary benefit of edge computing is its improvement of latency and reduction of response times while also conserving network resources. The information doesn’t have to travel as far as it would under a traditional cloud deployment, making it available sooner.
For instance, IoT use cases include sensors that typically generate vast amounts of data for the applications they support. It is a matter of efficiency to process and analyze that data closer to its source, removing the need to communicate back and forth to the cloud, which can impact performance and response times. Delays in data transmission are unacceptable in a scenario where the sensors are part of a self-driving vehicle communication system.
Constant Availability of an Application
Edge computing supports the availability of an application, even during connectivity or cloud outages. With edge computing located close to end-users, there is a sharply reduced likelihood of a network problem in a distant location affecting local customers.
Edge computing devices continue to operate effectively on their own because they natively handle processing functions. With a growing hybrid workforce, edge computing benefits these employees while at their remote offices, improving performance and the ability for access to corporate data in almost real-time.
Improved Security and Privacy
By reducing the need to send sensitive information to the cloud. Even with the ever-increasing number of cyber-attacks, edge computing distributes the processing, storage, and use of applications across devices and data centers, making it much less likely that disruption would impact or shut down the network.
Today, edge clouds are on the rise. Edge clouds are, in effect, compact data centers located near the end-user utilizing them. The value proposition of an edge cloud is its decentralized nature, keeping data closer to its source while bringing computing resources to anywhere it needs to be. Edge clouds are a value-add where geographic location is a primary concern. With the entire cloud function – computer, storage, and networking – all moved closer to the source of data, edge clouds enable near-real response times while reducing the need to be in competition with large volumes of network traffic headed to and from the centralized public cloud.
Edge computing’s importance is rapidly gaining momentum, especially for certain use cases such as remote locations, where access to the cloud has been a challenge. The need for robust, responsive compute close to the user has become a global imperative to adequately power the technologies we have grown accustomed to in our everyday lives. Flexible, effective, and always on, decentralized edge computing is poised to take its place in the list of cloud approaches regularly considered by enterprises.