Getting closer to the edge


Cognitive Computing, Enterprise Workplace, Internet of Things
18 Apr 18 Author: Craig Smith

Edge computing enables organisations to analyse data and draw meaningful insights on the spot– but it’s the cloud that makes it possible.

The most fascinating aspect of technology is how it makes new things possible. Cloud computing has given us greater mobility and agility. It has lowered or removed the entry barriers to markets and geographic regions. It has sparked the digital transformation of organisations, allowing them to streamline and integrate processes, become much more open and accessible, and deliver a more responsive and better service for customers.

The cloud has turned the Internet of Things (IoT) from a dream into a growing reality. With connected devices all around a home or building, it’s possible to monitor and control heating, lighting, media and security devices from a smartphone or tablet – or through a voice-activated hub. The cloud has also made vast amounts of previously unreachable data available and put business intelligence and analytics tools within the reach of many more organisations.

Elements of all these strands are now being drawn together in edge computing. Data gathered from multiple devices and sources at the edge of the network is also analysed and interpreted, and the results delivered at the edge; there is no need to move data to the centre for analysis and no need to wait for the results to come back. This reduces network traffic and latency and provides a speedier response for users.

Edge computing will see smarter IoT devices and AI being used to collect and analyse data. Potential applications include multi-layered physical security, control of temperature and environment, the delivery of services at events or in stadiums, the management of crowds and public spaces, of machinery and resources in factories, warehouses and distribution centres, and of vehicles and traffic.

Seen from the perspective of cloud computing advocates, there is a parody with edge computing, because with more of the work being done at the edge, you need less to be done at the centre.

But without the cloud, none of this would be possible. Advanced IoT devices would not have been developed, as there would be no way for them to be connected and integrated with the AI, machine learning and business analytics solutions.

Edge computing is still developing and while it may draw the spotlight away from the central resources, the cloud will continue to be the enabler and foundation upon which edge solutions depend. Data and results will need to be stored and analysed further to provide deeper insights and inputs for business intelligence systems. The cloud will thus continue to extend the availability and potential of edge computing, IoT and other next generation technologies, making more things possible for more organisations.