What is Edge Computing and Why Is It Important?

What is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is an evolving technology, where computing takes place near the physical location that the data is being collected and analyzed.  This new infrastructure often involves sensors to collect data and edge servers to process data in real-time on site.  While moving the computing closer to the processes allows for Operation Technology (OT) professionals to make even more impactful decisions, it usually also removes the comfort of having the server and applications running on it supported by a data center IT department.  Proper planning is critical to be able to reap the benefits of an Edge Computing deployment today and enable simple, risk free innovation tomorrow.

Why is edge computing important?

Edge computing is important because is empowers new and improved ways for devices to collect and analyze data in real time. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), and especially the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), edge computing supports innovation and opens up new ways to do business.

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By 2022, 50 per cent of enterprise data will be created and processed outside the datacenter of the cloud, and by 2025 the number IoT devices is likely to have reached a staggering 100 billion.

What are the benefits and challenges of edge computing?

One of the top benefits of implementing edge computing is the ability to collect and analyze data where it is collected, on the factory floor, for example, catching and correcting problems that might not be identified as quickly if the data were to be sent to a central server or cloud for processing and analysis. Keeping data on site also reduces the security risk associated with porting data, which can be important in financial organizations, for example. It also reduces bandwidth costs.

Successful edge computing requires a thoughtful implementation and architecture. Having many sites collecting and analyzing data can mean more sites that need to be configured and monitored. Decentralized locations can also mean fewer technical personnel on site. These challenges can be addressed by working with knowledgeable system integrators and using the right edge technology.

Capabilities of the
Edge Computing

01. Security at the edge

Because edge computing is decentralized, the security risk is different than a centralized environment. The security controls found in private data centers or public clouds, like firewalls or antivirus tools, don’t automatically transfer. Experts recommend a few simple steps, including hardening each host, real-time network monitoring, encrypting data, and adding physical security measures.

02. The Cloud and the Edge

Does the edge replace the cloud? Edge computing works hand in hand with the cloud to provide a flexible solution based on the data collection and analysis needs of each organization. For real-time collection and analysis, the edge can take on certain workloads, but at the same time, the cloud can provide a centralized location for large scale analytics, providing insights into trends and performance and powering initiatives like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

03. Hybrid Cloud and the edge

If you’re already using a hybrid cloud architecture, then you’re familiar with the benefits of partitioning data between public and private clouds. Edge computing can be a great addition to this existing network. There are different configurations that all work well, depending on the business goals and usage. For example, the edge can take the place of the private cloud, the edge can take on the primary computing role, or you can pair the edge with an existing hybrid cloud with both public and private clouds.

04. The Edge, IIoT and AI

Edge computing will power the next industrial revolution, transforming manufacturing and services. Edge computing not only powers real time collection of data, it is the gateway to optimizing that data, creating business intelligence.
Increased computing power at the edge and more sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms creates the opportunity for machine learning. By combining hardware and software to create autonomous systems, companies can increase efficiency and productivity, while decreasing costs for maintenance and personnel.

05. Edge and 5G

To optimize the edge and realize the benefits of a hybrid architecture, the new 5G cellular networks will be essential. 5G can provide the reliable communications needed while providing the power needed to support the data transfer traffic necessary.

Stratus is a leader in edge computing

Stratus’ newest solution, ztC Edge, was specifically designed with the edge in mind. It is a virtualized, fully-integrated, self-protecting industrial computing system that’s able to be set-up in under 30 minutes. It is the first fully virtualized and self-monitoring edge server that is rugged enough for manufacturing plant floors yet requires little or no IT resources to deploy and maintain. It’s ability to manage up to three virtual machines, each running different industrial or IIoT applications, combined with its cloud-based self-monitoring services, allows industrial companies to ensure the availability of business-critical industrial applications in a seamless and cost-effective manner.