Edge computing has taken on immense significance in recent years, with its market size expected to reach 87.3 billion USD by 2026. It’s a staggering figure in isolation, but if you’ve been paying attention to tech developments in the business world, it’s not surprising.
Clearly, the demands associated with the recent pandemic accelerated the growth of Edge computing delivery models – however it would be a mistake to believe this was the only driver.
For example, Edge-adjacent tech like IoT has seen a similar explosion, with more than 10 billion IoT devices currently in use worldwide. These devices generate a tremendous amount of data, and Edge computing is far more effective at sorting through it than more traditional, centralized models.
Rather than risk latency and elevated bandwidth costs by using traditional remote data centers, Edge computing offers a localized storage source.
But how can it best be harnessed for your business? For Gavin Dudley, head of portfolio – Data Centers, at Fujitsu, Edge computing represents significant present and future opportunities. “What is Edge computing?” is no longer the main question, Dudley notes.
“We’ve already seen significant adoption of Edge computing across a huge range of industries,” says Dudley.
“Manufacturing, industrial and agriculture have all been traditional strongholds, but as Edge computing continues to develop, smart businesses are finding new ways to utilize it. For example, Edge computing is increasingly being used for smart retail purposes, in healthcare facilities, smart homes and cities.”
Edge computing: Advantages and disadvantages
Dudley points to several key advantages of adopting computing applications. When implemented effectively, Edge computing can present a considerable advantage for businesses – cutting response times and allowing easy access to software and data for employees all over the world.
Importantly, it also ensures that you can continue delivery even if there’s an outage or other problem while in the field. And, although individual Edge platforms might be less reliable, distributed compute and storage does lessen the likelihood of widespread outages.
Edge computing applications also offer attractive cost savings compared to other options, such as the cloud. Organizations can save money by using nearby data storage rather than centers that are geographically farther away or the cloud, which may have high bandwidth expenses.
“One of the problems with the old model of centralized data is that it takes forever to sort through to find the information you need,” says Dudley. “Obviously, we’ve come a long way since the old punch card systems for computing – but when you’re in a situation where every second counts, there’s no question that Edge computing is the future.”
Dudley is also a staunch believer that the full potential of Edge computing hasn’t been fully tapped yet. Given the increased focus so many businesses have on gathering consumer data and adopting IoT solutions, Dudley believes the future is bright.
“Virtual reality, automated vehicles, smart devices, smart homes and other futuristic technologies all represent huge potential for Edge computing,” Dudley says. “When you couple that with the increased capabilities that tech like Web 3.0 and 5G are going to bring to the table in terms of internet accessibility, I think we’re just scratching the surface.”
However, Dudley is also realistic about the potential drawbacks; Edge computing isn’t infallible. Perhaps the most significant concern is that of security. Data on the Edge of a network can be less secure than data housed in the cloud or within a centralized location. Edge devices are also very different in terms of operation and device requirements, which creates the added disadvantages of:
- Potential lower reliability
- The need for redundancy in case of device failure
- Additional training for staff across various devices
- Maintenance for dispersed assets is more difficult
Nonetheless, Dudley points to the fact that Edge computing applications in businesses have historically proven to be a versatile solution. Most of these issues can be circumvented – or at least reduced – by working with experienced vendors who can provide multilayered cybersecurity and training solutions. From Dudley’s standpoint, there’s never been a better time to implement Edge applications if your business hasn’t already.
“The benefits far outweigh the potential downsides,” says Dudley. “There can definitely be challenges, but that’s why it’s important to work with the right vendors. A reputable partner providing you with the right products and support can really empower your organization.”
Looking ahead, Dudley notes that an Edge computing strategy will be crucial for any business that deals with data and infrastructure management – in short, just about everyone.
“As Edge computing continues to develop, we expect to see massive progress in areas that require fast response time and other benefits that Edge systems can offer,” says Dudley.
“Businesses, industries, and organizations will benefit from accelerated decision-making processes, remote working capabilities, increased productivity, cost savings and more, all through Edge computing applications. It’s a really exciting time for anyone interested in future tech.”
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