Living on the Edge: How Edge Computing is Already a Game Changer 

by Pranav Ramesh
January 03, 2023

“The key benefit of edge computing is the ability of devices to compute, process, and analyze data with the same level of quality as data analyzed in the cloud, but without latency.” 

— Dr. Shafiq Rab, Senior Vice President & CIO, Rush University Medical Center 

  

The world runs on data. It is our most valuable resource and is what drives every business transaction or decision. Nearly every emerging technology or IT architectural paradigm is primarily focused on how to collect, analyze, transmit, and/or securely store that data.  

But there is a looming problem, one that organizations and companies are already having to face. There is more data than the current capacity to process and analyze it, and the bandwidth necessary to transmit large amounts of data is becoming strained. Moreover, some industries require latency to be as near to zero as possible, particularly in healthcare.  

Luckily, as is so often the case, tomorrow’s problems drive today’s innovations. Edge computing may be the solution to both, and already companies and organizations are taking advantage of its benefits. Including Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.  

“[Edge computing’s] greatest impact will be in the management of chronic diseases. The combination of IoT and fast 5G cellular connections will enhance the delivery of at-home care and allow for continuous monitoring of patients for diseases…,” said Dr. Rab. He has reason to be pleased with edge computing’s early results, as his hospital is one of only three to achieve the highest level of analytics maturity according to HIMSS 

So, what exactly is edge computing, and why does it matter? 

 

Edge Computing: Why It’s Becoming So Crucial Now 

Humans produce an almost incomprehensible amount of data. In 2021, it was estimated that we collectively produced almost 2.5 million terabytes of data. Every. Single. Day. At 22GB, that’s the equivalent of about 125 million Wikipedias produced every day. That’s nothing. By 2025, we will produce 463 exabytes a day (463 million terabytes).  

If that number seems massive, it’s because it is. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg. IBM estimates that in 2025, nearly 150 zettabytes of data (or 150 billion terabytes) will require analysis. Equally as massive is the computing power and bandwidth necessary to handle the task. 

That’s where edge computing comes in.  

Edge computing is an emerging IT architectural paradigm whereby data is processed and stored at or near its source. In other words, edge technology allows for the near-immediate processing of data because it happens at the “edge.” It’s data analytics in real-time.  

“Edge computing is the science of having the edge devices…process the data they collect, share timely insights, and if applicable, take appropriate action…without the need for the data to be transported to another server environment,” explains Red Hat chief technological strategist E.G. Nadhan.  

It’s the decentralization of data. But it isn’t necessarily going to replace the traditional “central hub” approach, where data is processed and collected in a centralized location, normally dubbed “the cloud,” which is probably one of the over 1850 data centers in the US. Rather, think of edge as an extension of the cloud, with one constantly improving the other.   

Perhaps Michael Clegg, VP at Supermicro, explains it best with a food analogy: 

“By processing incoming data at the edge, less information needs to be sent to the cloud and back. This also significantly reduces latency. A good analogy would be a popular pizza restaurant that opens smaller branches in more neighborhoods since a pie baked at the main location would get cold on its way to a distant customer.” 

 

RELATED POST: The Behind-the-Scenes Genius of Ambient Computing

Benefits and Applications of Edge Computing 

Today, only around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed at the edge. By 2025, that number will reach 75%. Edge computing is a quickly growing concept and market, with a value of $44.7 billion today that is expected to reach nearly $101 billion in just a few short years.  

Here are some of the advantages edge computing has to offer: 

  • Reduced latency: Latency is how long it takes for data to travel from one source to another. Moving data takes time, the length of which can be dependent on how much data there is, how far it must travel, and how it is transmitted. Because edge computing processes the data near the source, it necessarily leads to reduced latency times. Incorporating 5G technology into edge computing will reduce latency even more. While we may never get the near-zero latency that 5G promises, edge computing already has the capability to improve cloud access latency by up to 30% 
  • Higher data volume: As the production of data grows, so too will our need to handle such high volumes. By decentralizing data production, data analysis becomes faster, smarter, and more efficient.  
  • Improved privacy/security: Cybercriminals also know the value of data, which is why cybercrime comes with a nearly $10 trillion dollar-a-year cost, a figure that will becoming increasingly more expensive. To say that data protection and privacy is important is an understatement. Edge computing could eliminate some privacy risks because it keeps data near the source, reducing exposure. 

Conclusion 

Edge computing is fast becoming ubiquitous. Its biggest footprint is in the approximately 15 billion IoT connected devices, a number that will double by 2030. Industries like healthcare, oil and gas and manufacturing are already seeing the advantages and benefits of edge computing.  

Now could be the right time to further investigate what advantages edge computing can bring to your organization. Just as AI, blockchain, and quantum computing are fast becoming mainstream tech, edge computing is a new tool that can enhance how your company gets business done.  

Is your business ready to start operating on the edge? 

 

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