Just when you thought you finally mastered the organizational, operational, and technical aspects of cloud computing, the cloud world took a rollercoaster ride of advancements and introduced us to the ‘Edge Computing.’ There are lots of discussions and argumentations about big data and ‘Edge Computing,’ but what exactly it means and how industries will benefit from this advanced technology is still unclear for most of the businesses and common people.
What is Edge Computing?
Let’s start with a simple definition. Edge computing, also called the Mini Cloud, can be seen as a subset of cloud computing services that will soon replace traditional data centers and centralized cloud approach. This new, major breakthrough innovation is less centralized and enables the collection and processing of generated data outside of data centers and cloud, placing information or services closer to its origination source. The improvisation significantly reduces the backhaul traffic and overall network latency that commonly transpires when sending data/components backward and forward between a local system and a centralized cloud server.
Why Should Enterprises Invest in and Use this Cutting-Edge Technology?
In a little more than a century, most industries and enterprises have gone from facts to numbers to the big data, having one enriching the other. Edge computing, indeed, is archetypally about the Internet of Things. At the same time, however, it goes beyond IoT environment and covers a range of emerging communication and technology trends, like 5G, real-time analytics, and energy efficiency, in distinct industries, including transportation, media, healthcare, IT, networking, and manufacturing, just to name a few. While this cutting-edge technology has not scratched the entire surface and exposed all its potential capabilities & applications yet, it is already being employed in a diversity of systems and devices we utilize every day, like tablets, automated machines, etc. To get a clear insight into why organizations should embrace an edge-first strategy, we first need to understand its present usage landscape and how it delivers unique benefits to various markets.
Use case#1: Gas and Oil Remote Monitoring
Companies that deal with highly-critical utilities, infrastructures, and products, like gases, chemicals, and oils, are finding edge computing to be a useful asset due to its real-time remote monitoring capability. The combination of IoT sensory devices and IP cameras will produce and deliver massive amounts of data consistently to provide real-time information on various environmental conditions, including temperature, sound, humidity, pressure, temperature, moisture, and other environmental conditions. That will allow field workers and engineers to evaluate the health of their running systems, foresee and identify potential malfunctions, and safeguard critical machinery against disaster in the most optimized timely manner.
For businesses operating in remote regions, this is the most secure and practical solution for better, immediate failure prevention, predictive maintenance, and energy efficiency without the need of depending on a traditional data center infrastructure hundreds of miles away. Likewise, they will be better able to maximize uptime, improve decision-making process with fewer onboard-resources, lower the growing operational costs and expenses, and increase the efficiency and productivity of the day-to-day operations drastically.
Use Case#2: Smart Workplaces, Building, and Offices
There’s a lot of progressive advancements in the pipeline. Edge computing framework has the ultimate potential to make offices, buildings, factories, and cities smarter than ever. With networks leveraging edge computing architecture and sensors collecting real-time data on utility usage, infrastructure, operations, or traffic patterns, it will soon become possible for:
a) Businesses to: identify the operational areas and processes that need improvement; reduce the likelihood of downtime; bring their virtual desktop environment to their local Edge site; deal with network outage and disasters, and; improve reliability and efficiency in the workplace.
b) City officials to: analyze the data and ensure immediate on-the-ground responsiveness to problems; react dynamically to changing conditions in real-time, and; so on.
c) Building management to: increase sustainability practices by ensuring appropriate and efficient usage of water, energy, and other building resources; improve security solutions by using Wi-Fi infrastructure and delivering an enhanced level of situational awareness as well as presence detection.
Use Case#3: Healthcare and Telemedicine
Soon the medical industry will be adopting and integrating the latest revolutionary edge computing solutions in conjunction with IoT devices to deliver better patient care and optimized healthcare facility operations. Edge computing makes the IoT systems operate and run network functions at a level that enables the collection, analysis, and provision of massive amounts of crucial patient-generated health data (PGHD) using less backhaul bandwidth. Rather than interacting with a distant cloud and slow database, the connected IoT devices will leverage edge computing architecture to access and process the majority of that data at the local device (edge) level in real-time without almost no latency. With these capabilities, health providers and emergency response services will be able to collect and evaluate critical medical records (the patient’s) onsite from hard-to-reach areas to recommend quick, appropriate treatments. Fitness bands, wireless blood pressure monitor, smart glucometer, and other personal health-monitoring devices are some popular examples demonstrating how advanced IT solutions are fueling clinical innovation and reshaping the entire healthcare and medical niche.
For instance, the data from these gadgets can be used to not only track the patient’s specific functional status and progress but also update their medical records and share the information with physicians, caregivers, and emergency department personnel in case of emergency.
Use Case#4: Autonomous Vehicles and Solutions
Edge computing and autonomous solutions go hand-in-hand. While self-driving cars, trucks, and other automobiles are not ready to make a grand appearance over the highways anytime soon, the automotive industry has already invested billions of dollars into the manufacturing of complex sensory technologies embedded in autonomous vehicles. Utilizing edge computing and distributed technology will enable industrial equipment to mimic human thought processes and conduct specific humanlike activities in an intelligent way, without human interference. With capabilities offered by edge computing, like real-time parallel computing and massive bandwidth, vehicles can collect and exchange real-time sensory data back and forth between the smart system and target point or service, like emergency medical staff, municipality, etc. Furthermore, these techniques will enable the vehicle to analyze forests of data about its surroundings, gather knowledge about the destination and route, evaluate weather conditions, and communicate with other means of transportation on the road efficiently.