How to explain edge computing in plain English

In traditional enterprise computing, data is produced at a client endpoint, such as a user’s computer. That data is moved across a WAN such as the internet, through the corporate LAN, where the data is stored and worked upon by an enterprise application. This remains a proven and time-tested approach to client-server computing for most typical business applications. In practice, this allows machine data to be transferred quickly and effectively to other devices and systems. Using middleware, such as OPC Router, the machine data can then be transferred to different cloud environments, ERP systems or databases. Other field-level devices, such as scales or printers, can also be connected in practice with middleware.

edge computing definition

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Differences of Edge Computing vs. Cloud Computing

Computing was originally done using one large, centralized computer that often took up an entire room or section of a building. People would either travel from their offices to use the computer or send punch cards with programs to the system’s operator, who would input them into the computer. Get prepared to be inspired by the world’s leading infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders and Gartner experts and explore the latest technologies. One of the most cutting-edge applications of edge is frictionless store checkout in retail, allowing customers to pick up items off the shelves and walk out the door, getting checked out without waiting in line. Let’s dive into a couple of examples of edge use cases that are already happening today and will only improve with a greater 5G rollout and other innovations.

edge computing definition

Traditional data handling methods faced significant limitations in accommodating the exponential growth in data volume and the proliferation of internet-connected devices. In response to these challenges, edge computing introduced an innovative approach. This article delves into the transformation from conventional data processing to the fundamental principles of edge computing. We’ll explore its remarkable significance and the profound impact it has on the way data is managed and processed. Edge computing, in practice, offers the ability to process data close to the source, reducing latency and enabling applications to respond faster.

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Edge computing allows you to compute with lower latency, save bandwidth, and use smart applications that implement machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, if you have an edge device within a factory, a worker has to log in to use it. After they log in, they send information to a local server that then also sends data to the device. If the device has a weak password, it would be easy for a hacker, disgruntled worker, or another malicious actor to send harmful code to the server that supports the edge network. Further, it would be relatively easy to spy on the activity within the network, as well as the data that is transferred throughout the network, if proper security measures are not in place for each device.

edge computing definition

Much of today’s computing already happens at the edge in places like hospitals, factories and retail locations, processing the most sensitive data and powering critical systems that must function reliably and safely. These places require solutions with low latency that do not need a network connection. What makes edge so exciting is the potential it has for transforming business across every industry and function, from customer engagement and marketing to production and back-office operations.

Advantages of Edge Computing

Computing tasks demand suitable architectures, and the architecture that suits one type of computing task doesn’t necessarily fit all types of computing tasks. Edge computing has emerged as a viable and important architecture that supports distributed computing to deploy compute and storage resources closer to — ideally in the same physical location as — the data source. In general, distributed computing models are hardly new, and the concepts of remote offices, branch offices, data center colocation and cloud computing have a long and proven track record.

  • With this topology, the data does not have to travel all the way to a remote data center for the edge device to function properly.
  • While data warehouses and server farms were once considered to be the ultimate choice for computing speed, the focus has quickly shifted to the concept of cloud or “offsite storage”.
  • A portfolio of enterprise software optimized for lightweight deployment at the edge.
  • Edge computing uses locally generated data to enable real-time responsiveness to create new experiences, while at the same time controlling sensitive data and reducing costs of data transmission to the cloud.
  • It’s faster—and less costly—to process that trove of data close to the equipment, rather than transmit it to a remote datacenter first.

For example, scanners can be used to check the status of a vehicle being built as it travels along an assembly line. According to Gartner, approximately 10% of data generated by enterprises is processed or produced outside a central data center or cloud—or at the edge of a network. The amount of edge-produced and processed data is predicted to reach 75% by 2025. They provide the same components as traditional data centers but can be deployed locally near the data source. This puts data, compute, storage, and applications nearer to the user or IoT device where the data needs processing, thus creating a fog outside the centralized cloud and reducing the data transfer times necessary to process data.

Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to the sources of data. This is expected to improve response times and save bandwidth.[1] Edge computing is an architecture rather than a specific technology,[2] and a topology- and location-sensitive form of distributed computing. Edge computing gained notice with the rise of IoT and the sudden glut of data such devices produce. But with IoT technologies still in relative infancy, the evolution of IoT devices will also have an impact on the future development of edge computing. One example of such future alternatives is the development of micro modular data centers (MMDCs).