Edge Computing: The Advantages and Disadvantages

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As the quantity of data generated by business transactions grows exponentially, new and innovative methods of data flow management have arisen. One such method is edge computing to help partially analyze and structure data before sending it to the cloud.

Edge computing uses local devices and servers that capture data and conduct processing before sending it for analysis. This processing may include structuring, eliminating redundancies and unnecessary information, or partially analyzing data.

But like all other technologies, edge computing has advantages and disadvantages that each user must weigh to determine whether it’s a good fit for them.

Advantages of Edge Computing

  1. Reduced Latency – The vast quantity of data streaming to the cloud may create a traffic jam of sorts. Cloud-based platforms and analytics can sort, clean, and structure data and perform analysis. But edge computing takes some of that load off the cloud platform, reducing latency. By analyzing locally, the return time from the cloud to the company using the information is reduced, leaving the cloud-based platform for more critical tasks such as analytics.
  2. Reduced Bandwidth – Just as edge computing reduces latency, it also reduces bandwidth. Because more data is processed, analyzed, and stored locally, less data is sent to the cloud. This reduction in data flow minimizes the cost to the user as lower bandwidth means less frequent upgrades to cloud storage subscriptions.
  3. Security – Cloud-based data storage security has advanced dramatically in recent years and will continue to improve. In addition, edge computing means less data is centralized in cloud storage. By processing and storing some data in an edge network, the situation of having “all your eggs in one basket” is minimized—the edge filters redundant, extraneous, and unneeded data. Only the most critical data is sent to the cloud.
  4. Scalability and Versatility – Since edge devices are becoming more common, they’re often available for cloud-based platforms. As OEM equipment manufacturers add edge capability native to their equipment, the system is much easier to scale. This proliferation also allows local networks to remain functional even when upstream or downstream nodes are down.

Disadvantages of Edge Computing

  1. Cost and Storage – Even though cloud storage expenses are lower, there’s an additional cost on the local end. Much of this comes from creating storage capacity for edge devices. There’s also a cost component associated with edge computing as old IT network infrastructure is replaced or upgraded to handle edge devices and storage. Some companies may find that the cost of converting to an edge network rivals that of installing and maintaining a traditional IT infrastructure.
  2. Lost Data – The advantage of edge computing carries with it a risk. When implemented, the system must be thoroughly planned out and programmed to avoid data loss. Many edge computing devices discard irrelevant data after collection – as they should – but if the data discarded is relevant, that data is lost and the analysis in the cloud will be flawed.
  3. Security – Just as there’s a security advantage at the cloud and enterprise levels, there’s a security risk at the local level. It does a company no good to have a cloud-based provider with excellent security only to have their local network open to breach. This issue is a problem that the IT departments have struggled with for years, but vigilance, or lack of it, extends to the new edge network as well. While cloud-based security is becoming stronger, it’s usually human error and locally used applications and passwords that open the door to most breaches.

Adopting a New Technology

Entrepreneurs should always gravitate toward the most valuable technology to help the venture succeed. But not all new business leaders have the time or skillset required to understand the advantages and disadvantages of technology as it applies to their business.

The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College offers training, mentorship, connections, funding, and more for those interested in learning how new technology can shape and grow their business. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you navigate technology and apply it to your journey.

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