Today we’ll talk about Edge Computing, the cutting-edge technology you hear much about. Recently Edge Computing fuels various discussions and analysis in the tech industry, with almost opposite evaluations. From one side there’s who think that the Edge may soon replace Cloud Computing, by ending its rule over IT infrastructures. From the other side, there’s who instead consider Edge Computing as an alternative technology which may be integrated to the existing infrastructures and they just assess its benefits.
What will be the place of Edge Computing in the future? Of course, it’s too early to tell, but we can start knowing well its meaning and functioning. In this post we will see what is Edge Computing, which are its benefits and what is the difference between Fog and Edge Computing.
Meaning of Edge Computing
According to Wikipedia “Edge Computing is a distributed computing paradigm which brings computer data storage closer to the location where it is needed“. Gartner says that Edge Computing represents a new age, that of Cloud to Edge, and he defines it like that: “edge computing facilitates data processing at or near the source of data generation“. We can say that in the past (and still now) Cloud Computing has lead to the development of large central data centers buildings, located hundreds of miles from users. Edge Computing has the opposite architectural model: an IT decentralized and distributed infrastructure, composed by so-called micro data centers, placed in proximity to the user and used for the provision of internet services at shorter distance than Cloud Computing data centers. Indeed, Cloud Computing supply IT solutions through a centralised infrastructure distant from users, while with Edge Computing distance are shortened and the computing power is located near to whom request the service. That means that Cloud Computing is bound to disappear? Probably Edge Computing will not determine the end of Cloud Computing, but rather it can expect to progress further towards the source of data.
Features and benefits
As is clear from the definitions that we just saw, the key feature of Edge Computing is the ability of processing critical data locally, then sending them to a central repository. Wikipedia source also states that the main benefit of edge technology is the reduction of data volumes that must be moved, the consequent traffic, and the distance the data must travel. That provides lower latency and reduces transmission costs.” Micro data center of Edge Computing not only allow to get higher bandwidth and lower latency, but they also ensure a greater security and privacy of data.
For what is related to use cases, the most common application of Edge Computing is linked to the IoT world. Smart devices are less suitable to conventional Cloud Computing model and often currently face availability, latency and bandwidth issues. Edge represents the winning solution by getting computing near to the source of data generation, by removing even the minimum latency of Cloud Computing and by ensuring always real-time responses.
Edge Computing vs Fog Computing
The two terms are often used interchangeably but, even thought they are very similar technologies, there’s a basic difference between them. Edge and Fog Computing are both proximity technologies, meaning they are based on the data processing close to their source. The difference is just the exact location of the computing power. In Fog Computing it is located at LAN network level, where data coming from sensors are processed by a node or IoT gateway, while in Edge Computing it is integrated in the computing embedded devices and platforms. In addition, Fog technology has a more complex network structure compared to Edge Computing, composed by different layers (or fog nodes), and it allows to manage storage and networking also, as well as computing.
Next time we’ll talk about Edge Computing in a more concrete way with some cases of application related to IoT…stay tuned!