Tech Talk: Mark Gibson
While cloud computing processes and stores data at a central location (often called a datacentre), Edge Computing happens at the internet’s ‘Edge’, meaning that data is processed within close proximity to the source of that data. Data sources can include video cameras, vehicles or oil wells, and Edge Computing typically executes via a direct connection, if not as part of the host device itself.
So what? Well, with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), Edge Computing really comes into its own by supporting innovation, efficiency and leveraging the explosion of data.
As the IoT devices get smarter, smaller and all-pervasive, the Edge is where it’s at. The wider adoption of 5G connectivity will further support businesses pushing data processing closer to the Edge. Of course, opportunity can create some new challenges and one of edge computing’s is security.
The traditional security model is based on us humans accessing a device, typically with a username and password. Increasingly though, with IoT devices that will be widely distributed in our cars, homes, factories and workplaces, the interaction is with the data and not the device.
Forrester Research has predicted 2020 as the “breakout year” for Edge Computing. What we traditionally consider to computer to be will increasingly shift from traditional ‘tin box servers’ to Edge technology deployed in IoT devices.
Aligning the edge with 5G, AI and, of course, big data, will really begin to enable the next phase of digital transformation. More processing happening at the Edge reduces the need for long-distance communication between devices, reduces bandwidth and identifies the subset of data that needs to be transmitted to the cloud for processing.
Edge Computing is not new, but the coming together of these trends will really accelerate the mass adoption of IoT devices, and with it some new social and ethical issues around data ownership and privacy. GDPR will be a walk in the park compared to the coming storm of debate around security and IoT governance.
Edge Computing and the ‘smartification’ of our homes and working lives is happening. It will soon touch and influence every aspect of our lives and should be used to positively enhance our workplace, ‘smarter’ cities and reduce our environmental footprint.
We can expect Smart Cities to increasingly be the norm with connected devices at the Edge monitoring traffic, pollution and energy use. Smart public lighting alone has typically been found to reduce energy consumption by 50%.
It’s not just cities that will see the benefits – rural areas have also started to apply this technology, resulting in exciting new projects in advanced land and livestock management. Some examples include precision grazing, mobility of “connected cows”, remote veterinarian diagnostics support, aquaculture health monitoring, and drone soil analysis, to highlight a few.
We are all already living life on the Edge – it’s time to unlock the full potential of this new paradigm shift.
Mark Gibson is managing director of IT solutions company Capito