Edge Technology

The future is on the edge

Promising faster service, more flexibility, and greater reliability, edge computing is a trend many are examining closely. We look at the future of computing and how it will change the network as we know it. 

What is the edge?

Edge computing allows data produced by Internet of Things (IoT) devices to be processed closer to where it is created. Instead of sending it across long routes to centralised data centers or clouds, edge technology provides ‘real time’ processing and analysis through streamlining traffic and pushing it to the fringes of the network.

Data analytics take place close to IoT devices and sensors and therefore allow faster processing. Response time is lowered to milliseconds, turning huge amounts of machine-sourced information into actionable intelligence.

Globally, there are over 17 billion connected devices at present, with this figure set to increase by over 10 percent every year, with an expected 28 billion IoT devices within five years. Other sources expect this figure to be even higher—perhaps as much as 50 billion. Whichever figures you look at, the trend is clear—the IoT market is rapidly accelerating and with it, the demand for the faster processing of that information.

Though the market is still in its infancy, edge technology is rapidly gaining momentum, peaking interest and finding new, practical applications.

Is it goodbye to the cloud?

So will edge computing supersede the cloud? Not even close.

The increase in the demand for a greater volume and faster data analysis means more processing points are required. Edge data will work alongside cloud processing, with the increased demand for both.

According to a study conducted by tech analysts, International Data Group (IDC), it’s expected by 2020, 45% of all data created by IoT devices will be stored, processed, analysed and acted upon through edge computing.

As edge computing gains popularity and is rolled out further, cloud services will benefit, enabling businesses to optimise their cloud networks. Less data is sent over networks, improving performance and saving money for organisations on cloud costs.

The two work in conjunction and have different functions due to their differing strengths. In reality, analytic rules and systems might be created in the cloud then pushed out to devices. Due to its size and centralisation, big data is better suited to stay in cloud networks, so businesses will most likely continue to use all available resources.

Companies such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have already decentralised their data centres, moving many of their services closer to their customers or users, and consequently, closer to the edge.

So as the edge computing market grows, where are we likely to experience it? And what will change?

Practical applications of edge computing

You are already very familiar with edge devices. These include ATM’s, laptops, smartphones or other IoT connected devices. But what edge computing can do, working with advances in artificial intelligence (AI), is to allow these devices to make decisions on the fly, and in so doing, personalise and enhance an individual’s experience.

Take, for example, the use of LLVision glasses. Used by some Chinese police, these glasses have the ability to identify citizens using a combination of facial recognition combined with almost instantaneous processing and analytics.

One area where technology is also pushing frontiers is in the offline retail and food sectors.

For example, a restaurant can ‘recognise’ customers and suggest meals based on what has been ordered previously, eliminating any options or ingredients which are unavailable.

Even Point of Sale has become streamlined. Apart from being able to pay easily using an app, data can be gathered and processed immediately on the edge. It is then transferred to central accounting and forecasting systems.

Grocery stores are also in for a makeover with the potential for ‘smart trolleys’ which can total up food purchases as the customers pick them from the shelf, gathering data and eliminating the need to queue for the checkout.

As this market matures in the near future, the limits to computing on the edge unveil almost limitless possibilities.

If you’d like to discuss more about how to your business can take full advantage of future trends like edge computing or receive a free assessment, call EMPR Solutions on 1300 289 867 (AU), 0508 278 769 (NZ) or email us today.  

– Natasha Poynton

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