For many years, a basic tenet of technology architecture was to centralize data and applications on a core platform such as a cloud-based system or on-premises datacenter. But another trend is now emerging. Organizations are now pushing information from the center toward individual users on edge. 

The concept of edge computing presents a new way of looking at where and how information is accessed and leveraged to optimize performance, cost, and efficiency for organizations. What is it? Edge computing is a distributed computing model in which workloads are processed closer to the location where they will ultimately be accessed. This is done to achieve faster performance and to cut down on bandwidth.

In short, "edge" devices such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, local servers, and end-user devices like mobile phones are used en masse to provide faster and easier access to vital information by the people that need it most. Edge computing is an exciting new paradigm that is reaping big benefits for businesses everywhere. 

The worldwide market for edge computing is expected to reach nearly $22.5 billion by 2024, according to MarketWatch. Several factors are driving such increased interest in edge computing, including the growth of IoT, the pervasiveness of smart edge devices, booming cloud-based data traffic, and a need for better overall data security. 

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How Edge Computing Helps Businesses

There are several key benefits that businesses are recognizing as they leverage the edge computing approach, as highlighted recently by NetworkWorld:

  1. It puts data closer to the devices that are using it, rather than in a centralized repository. This ensures that data can be used in real-time without negatively impacting an edge application's performance. The closer the data is, the faster it can be accessed. 
  2. It reduces the amount of data that needs to be processed in the cloud or other centralized location, which reduces latency and helps lower costs. IoT-based environmental sensors in an apartment complex, for example, can analyze data quickly and in smaller chunks, then send results and insights to the cloud. Companies today are wasting as much as 35 percent of their cloud spend, according to a RightScale study. Pushing functionality further out to the edge can help improve efficiency and optimize costs. 
  3. It improves privacy and security by managing sensitive data right in the edge device, such as an IoT sensor, rather than having to protect it as it makes its way back and forth to the cloud or other devices. An example of this would be a retail advertising system that generates targeted ads to users based on demographic and behavioral information gathered in a mall kiosk or promotional event. 

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Real-world Examples of Edge Computing Success

A recent case study of edge computing success is that of the City of London, a small but historic government sector in the UK capital. While only 10,000 people live there, half a million work there in the financial hub. With so many people in such a small space, local authorities were pushed to build flexible remote-work technology infrastructure. 

The new edge computing architecture in the City of London has enabled 70 percent of personnel to work from their mobile devices, generating greater productivity from the use of mobile apps, video calls, digital stock control, and fingerprint scanning by the local police force. According to the case study, "more than 1,000 Wi-Fi access points were installed across the 120 sites, with computing power stored on the edge nearby to monitor and manage performance and availability of the network and applications." They also plan to install IoT devices to improve edge capabilities further.

Edge Computing Can Empower the Cloud

The good news is that edge computing isn't mutually exclusive to the cloud. On the contrary, the two can work together symbiotically to create a more balanced and efficient technology business model. The combined system leverages the fast processing speeds and big data capabilities of the cloud with the rapid response of edge devices. 

In fact, cloud architects—like those who get certified on Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS)—are increasingly looking at deploying edge devices to optimize operations. According to LinkedIn, cloud and distributed computing are the most difficult skills for companies to fill in their day-to-day operations, so it makes sense to ensure your technology architects are properly aligned with the latest edge and cloud applications. 

Furthermore, the IoT space is seeing dramatic growth, valued at $212 billion in 2018, and projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2026, according to MarketWatch. IoT-driven innovations, which can be learned in comprehensive IoT skills training from Simplilearn, can help strengthen business cases and increase operational return on investment (ROI).

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Edge computing isn't entirely new for technology practitioners, but its benefits and uses for businesses are finally coming of age. Growth of IoT and the empowerment of real-time analysis in edge devices are helping to create a new era of technological efficiency, cost control and security. That's a great value proposition for businesses that want to stay competitive and lead their markets. 

Simplilearn's IOT course will familiarize you with IoT concepts, its origin, impact, methodologies and tools, and how IoT is integrated into business applications to improve business results.

About the Author

Stuart RauchStuart Rauch

Stuart Rauch is a 25-year product marketing veteran and president of ContentBox Marketing Inc. He has run marketing organizations at several enterprise software companies, including NetSuite, Oracle, PeopleSoft, EVault and Secure Computing. Stuart is a specialist in content development and brings a unique blend of creativity, linguistic acumen and product knowledge to his clients in the technology space.

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