What is Edge Computing and How Does it Work?

What is Edge Computing and How Does it Work? post image

The concept of “edge computing” refers to the processing of data locally, or on the “edge” of your network. It’s a type of IT networking that aims to minimise bandwidth and latency, with the end goal of speeding up computer and cloud processes. This local data processing is performed by a nearby device, such as an edge server, IoT device, or the user’s computer itself.

If your business needs to process large volumes of data daily, your operations could be sped up by implementing edge computing philosophy. In this guide, we’ll explore the concept more in depth, examine the pros and cons, and define its relationship to cloud computing.

How does edge computing work?                                                                                 

Edge computing provides a high-speed experience by processing data as close to your enterprise applications as possible. So, the data coming out of the originating source is basically processed there and then. This data does not need to travel through a network to reach a data centre or cloud. By cutting out this travel time, your processes are quickened.

By implementing edge computing, the computing power of your business becomes decentralised. While there remains an on-premises data centre, edge computing gives your connected devices each a mini data centre for processing their own data.

This means that remote devices can self-sufficiently process data, despite being miles away from the main data centre. Normally, this distance would lead to latency and long wait times, a problem that is totally removed with edge computing.

In terms of how this can work for your business, edge computing provides instant results. From an analytical point of view, edge computing can deliver insights instantly, given that your data doesn’t have to travel and report back from the central cloud to provide results.

Or, if your employees operate in a large warehouse or in an area that has limited internet, edge computing allows these employees to carry out their processes seamlessly without being limited by slow internet.

 

What describes the relationship between edge computing and cloud computing?

Although these terms have some degree of overlap, there are distinct conceptual differences between edge computing and cloud computing. Edge computing can support, simplify, and quicken cloud-based processes.

However, given that edge computing processes data locally, you’re effectively running fewer cloud computing processes when you use edge computing. The edge can perform the intense computer processing that’s normally fulfilled by the cloud.

This opens the question: what are the differences between cloud computing and edge computing?

The main differences are:

  • Cloud computing is centralised, whereas edge computing is decentralised.
  • Cloud computing can feature high latency, whereas edge computing provides minimal delay and lag.
  • Cloud computing delivers maximum processing and computing power, whereas edge computing delivers a limited and personal level of processing and computing power.

Edge computing use cases

To give you a better understanding of how edge computing is utilised in the real world, here are some familiar edge use cases for you to consider:

  • Smart cities – Smart cities are made up of smart vehicles, energy, homes, and infrastructure. Each of the individual components that make up a smart city needs a degree of edge computing in order to operate at the speed of life. For example, smart traffic lights, onsite cameras, and other sensor-detecting tools can feature edge computing technology to promote quicker analysis and action.
  • Autonomous vehicles – Autonomous vehicles can also utilise edge computing to drive seamlessly down the road. These vehicles will be fitted with sensors that are designed to detect the speeds of other vehicles and road conditions – both of which can be analysed and actioned upon by the edge.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) – This remote computing technique allows for IoT devices to work well independently. With low latency, these devices can process information, process, and store data seamlessly.
  • Smart grids – Edge computing can also be applied to smart grids. Sensors that detect energy usage can be kitted out with edge computing technology to record and analyse real-time changes to temperature and climate. Based on this quick-paced analysis, energy usage can be altered to benefit the current temperature.
  • Telemedicine – Edge computing is used widely in healthcare, particularly when instantaneous and remote processing of data is required. For example, remote healthcare workers can use edge devices to analyse health information quickly.
  • Industrial – Manufacturing operations have been simplified through the power of the edge. On remote assembly lines, problems arise unexpectedly and quick resolution is required. The edge can analyse processes and provide quick intervention whenever necessary.
  • Agriculture and farming – Edge computing has even become a popular addition to agricultural tools. Farmers have been noted to utilise edge-enabled devices to analyse soil, temperature, and humidity remotely. Some irrigation systems are also being set up with edge technology to analyse moisture levels.  
  • Retail – Wireless point-of-sale devices are becoming commonly fitted with edge computing technology. Retail stores located far away from the main data centre of a company can also utilise edge computing to simplify processes.

Given the wide range of edge use cases, the adoption of this solution is expected to grow incrementally over the coming years. Between now and 2030, it is expected to have a 37.9% annual growth rate (based on this study conducted by Industry Vertical).

The pros and cons of edge computing

The benefits and drawbacks of implementing edge technology are as follows:

Pros:

  • Reduces pressure on your entire network – Not only does edge computing benefit the edge devices, but it also prevents your business computer network from being overwhelmed. Your main data centre processes less, which ensures less bottlenecking.
  • Realtime data – Edge computing delivers instantaneous data, allowing for quicker response time. This is why it’s great for emergency situations, where quick decisions need to be made based on reliable data analysis.
  • Reduced costs – By taking pressure off your computer network and by reducing your transmission cost, edge computing can save your business money.
  • Provides stronger security – Sensitive information stays on individual devices and is not held in a central location. While your central cloud should provide adequate security, having all your company stored in one place poses risks. Keeping your data decentralised, on the other hand, keeps it spread out and better hidden.

Cons

  • Complexity – Some may find edge computing architecture more complex than traditional architecture types due to the involvement of multiple independent devices. This presents some degree of implementation and maintenance challenges.
  • Upfront cost – While edge computing will save you money in the long run, it involves a considerable upfront cost to set up the new network.

How YourShortlist can help you integrate edge computing in your business

Given the upfront cost, you’ll want to make sure that you’re investing in the right edge computing platform for your business.

At YourShortlist, we’re dedicated to helping businesses procure software that meets their requirements. Through a simple consultation, we can outline your software needs and match them with providers from our bank of over 2,400 software partners.

We’ll then present the results from this analysis in a no-obligation shortlist, from which you can pick whichever option best works for you.

Contact us today to start your edge computing procurement journey.