What is edge computing?
Edge computing takes the processing of data away from a central hub and locates it where the action is happening, in smart objects, mobile phones and local networks. Without edge computing, data gathered from distant locations would be sent to a data centre for processing. With edge computing, decisions can be made at or near the collection point. In situations where fast decision making is critical or desirable, reducing latency is a key enabling factor.
Gartner have forecast that, by 2020, there will be 20.4 billion connected things in use across the world. A large proportion of these will be smart devices operating remotely and linked to the cloud. Truly smart devices should be able to collect data, process it themselves, share relevant information and, where necessary, take action. All without having to refer back to a cloud-based hub. This is what edge computing can achieve.
The benefits of edge architecture
With large amounts of data being processed at or near source, far less information need be sent to the cloud, meaning network traffic is greatly reduced and bandwidth freed up for other uses. Speeding up decision making enables businesses to cut costs, work more efficiently and improve customer engagement.
A standard architecture for edge computing has been defined by ETSI. It is designed to have components that are similar to those used in network functions virtualization (NFV) making it easy to combine the two. NFV and edge computing combined enable network resources to be used and managed in ways neither could do on their own.