What is Edge Computing, and why is it important?
As the Internet of Things continues to expand, a new approach to data processing and storage has become essential.
We’ve been living in the “Cloud Age” for a while now. The devices we use on a daily basis, from our smartphones to the entertainment systems in our cars, our wearable health watches and countless more – are part of a what has become known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IoT refers to the network of devices that are connected to – and draw data from – the internet during the course of their operation. As technology has advanced, this network has expanded, and in the process has established itself as a highly influential infrastructure underpinning the daily lives of millions of people.
However, the viability of the IoT is not simply a question of the technology found within each device. It relies on advances in data processing, storage and transmission too.
5G technology has been developed to address the issue of transmitting large amounts of data at fast speeds – a quality that will be extremely important if we are going to ever be able to rely on IoT devices that need to process large amounts of data – such as self-driving cars.
But is it always necessary for IoT devices to use data from the cloud? That’s the question that Edge Computing has provided an answer to.
Edge Computing is a technological concept and approach that seeks to optimize the way our devices and IT infrastructures access and use data.
It achieves this by intelligently segregating data that is meant for constant or frequent usage, and data that is not required on a constant basis.
Let’s take the example of movie or tv series streaming. If you have a device that you use for viewing video entertainment, it might have access to thousands of different movies and series that are located on a cloud database somewhere. In order to watch a new one, you may have to wait for it to be first downloaded from the cloud.
With edge computing, a device can be equipped with technology that allows the data that we frequently access – for example our favorite TV series that we have already identified and marked as a ‘favorite’ – to be stored closer to our device – on the edge, in a smaller local database that allows for quick, instantaneous access, even without an internet connection.
However, when it comes to IoT devices that need to process and transmit incredibly high amounts of data, the concept of Edge Computing is not just a convenience – it is a necessity. Devices such as automated factory robots or self-driving cars need to be able to process and access essential data, such as the next movement they will make – in a split second.
By using data that is stored locally, these processes can happen a lot faster, and more reliably than if they were being drawn from a cloud database.
Cutting Time – and Costs
With 5G adoption imminent across the world, we can expect data speeds and latency rates that are truly unprecedented, in every sense of the word.
However, this will not diminish the need for Edge Computing, which can help cut the time and costs involved in constantly transmitting and receiving data from cloud databases. In other words, Edge Computing is the process of bringing the cloud closer to us and our devices.
Ultimately, Edge Computing is a wide concept that refers more to an approach to technology and data processing than a specific set of technologies. However, as more and more data flows between us, our devices and cloud databases, more intelligent ways of managing and optimizing these flows and interactions are becoming necessary.
Do you have an IT system that needs optimizing? Contact us to find out how we can make it happen.