The number of connected devices worldwide is expected to climb to almost 31 billion by 2025. With the arrival of edge cloud computing, the capabilities and number of devices will likely grow even higher in years to come. This new trend will see an increase in the performance of networks and innovation in the form of new functionality and higher speeds. But, what is edge cloud computing?
How We Got Here
Computing for business applications and processes began with large, bulky, on-premise systems not connected to a network. As computer technology advanced, many companies began to add in-house servers to connect all facilities within a single enterprise. Aside from being expensive, this practice effectively meant that the power of computing for business applications was only accessible to large companies who could afford it.
As personal computing and a revolution in desktop software came about, smaller companies discovered they could link their business processes to computing power to improve processes. This process ushered in a new age of further linking businesses to computerization.
The increase in data production and automation of operations led to cloud-based computing, alleviating the cost of infrastructure and furthering the ability of software and analytical tools to be dispersed to any size enterprise. By storing, analyzing, and managing data in the cloud, access to technology and the power of analytical engines increased.
The Arrival of the Edge
Big Data is revolutionizing business practices by allowing deep analytics to unlock hidden capacity, identify hidden trends to enable process improvement, and deliver actionable insights to decision-makers.
As the power of AI-enabled analytics and machine learning algorithms increased, a new process began to merge, performing much of the processing locally at the “edge” where data was generated. The edge effectively decentralized cloud processing and delivered several key benefits. Edge computing benefits include:
- Latency – As advanced as cloud computing is, the volume of data and complexity of analytical requests create latency. The time to send and return queries and analysis placed a barrier on some advances in automation, such as factory robots. By processing at the point of creation or use of data, latency is decreased or eliminated.
- Security – Internet security has long been a significant concern. Open and closed networks were open to hacking and other DDS-style attacks, placing valuable corporate data at risk. With the edge, data is encrypted at the point of creation before entering the data pipeline, resulting in more secure transmission and analysis.
- Reduced Bandwidth – Another long-time, system-wide issue is bandwidth. In the past, all data had to be sent through the cloud, where irrelevant or duplicate data was removed before analysis could commence. This created a bandwidth bottleneck for dense data streams. With edge computing, data is cleaned and redundant or irrelevant data is removed before entering the cloud pipeline. This process reduces overall bandwidth use.
- Scalability – Edge computing is customizable to the machine or application needed. This means that entry costs for adding new devices are cost-effective and scalable.
The Edge Cloud
The arrival of the edge has not replaced the cloud. Instead, it extends the capabilities of cloud computing. As a result of on-site processing, data is cleaner; it does not require cleansing or contextualizing. Speed, power, and insights are increased as a result of AI-powered analytics engines and machine learning algorithms.
This decentralized system increases clients’ service offerings through high-density use of their platform or low latency functionality. It also increases the viability and reliability of faster processes for smart factories such as robotic production lines, remote safety shutdowns for dangerous applications, and smart city management.
The Edge Cloud for Small Business and Entrepreneurs
Edge cloud computing ramps up the power of the cloud by removing barriers and bottlenecks within the data pipeline. It opens new possibilities for businesses to offer new and exciting products and services.
For example, for small companies that use app-based communication with customers to provide services or monitor equipment remotely, processing at the edge allows them to deliver low to no latency response and more feature-rich products and services no longer hindered by bandwidth restrictions.
Likewise, small manufacturing companies that may not have the resources for a fiber or cable network to connect their production floor can use edge computing and cellular technology to build a production monitoring system that leverages production data to optimize processes. This means that they can afford and deploy a system on par with larger competitors.
As an entrepreneur, your company does not have to be left out of this revolution. Edge cloud computing offers companies of all sizes the capability to strengthen value by processing a large part of data at the edge. At the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College, we understand that your business is in startup or growth mode. Assistance in understanding how to use new technologies and apply them to your business is invaluable.
We offer assistance in business innovation, R&D, mentorship, and entrepreneurship. Our experienced faculty, staff, and community contacts can help you learn to apply edge computing technology to your entire business or latest project. To find out more about how we can help you harness the power of your data to grow your company, contact us today.