As the world continues to adopt cloud-based infrastructures and digital transformations gain traction across all sectors, solutions for cloud-caused latency will be in increasingly high demand. In this blog, we speak with Andy Horn, CEO of the technology and enterprise-level IT experts at IntraLAN, to discuss how edge computing is the solution and why it’s the future for businesses.
What does your business know about edge computing? Depending on who you ask, the answers may be wildly different. Is it part of the cloud? Emerging tech? It has something to do with security, right? Before discussing how edge computing can help ensure your business moves at the pace you require, it’s important to get a grasp on the basics.
What is edge computing?
Edge computing makes the cloud work smarter. It creates efficiencies within the cloud by processing data at the closest point to the system’s data or its end user.
Edge computing is facilitated through edge architecture. This type of IT architecture encompasses servers, sensors, devices and the cloud – everything included throughout a distributed network. The name ‘edge computing’ comes from those applications, devices or systems at the ‘edge’ of a network. For example, warehouses dotted throughout the country and their distance from the central hub. Those locations and the applications and systems within them would be on the ‘edge’ of that company’s network.
The transmitting, receiving and processing of data at the edge of a network’s cloud will experience increased latency because of their distance from the central server. Edge architecture moves servers close to the points where data is processed, thus reducing latency at the network’s edge.
Why is edge computing important?
The edge computing movement gained significant traction in 2018. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for edge computing was accelerated through the rapid adoption of distributed workforces and the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT and edge computing are intrinsically linked as businesses implement further devices in their networks.
Currently, the UK has approximately 450 data centres, and each time a device sends or receives data, it passes through one of these data centres. Edge computing will connect the IoT to these data centres through smaller hubs, geographically closer to where data is transmitted. Eventually, data transmission will require less latency and require lower bandwidth.
What are the benefits of edge computing?
Initially, edge computing benefits won’t be as impactful. It’s important to understand that edge computing isn’t just one business implementing hubs closer to their business. It’s the process of building a diverse edge computing ecosystem that provides innumerable benefits to all businesses, including:
Reduced latency and faster speeds
As we’ve discussed already, implementing hubs closer to where data is processed reduces latency by cutting down the distance data needs to travel to be computed. Whilst time savings in terms of milliseconds or nanoseconds seems irrelevant when processing data in real-time, it’s essential.
Ensuring swift real-time results or operations can be critical to business continuity. The latency in IoT devices where real-time results or analysis are critical is where businesses will feel the benefits of edge computing. This includes the automotive industry, telecoms, driverless vehicles, government tax agencies and medical facilities.
As a business grows, expanding its digital capabilities is required. Through edge computing, scaling your business’s digital infrastructure can be done easily. Adding devices at the edge of the cloud can be more cost-effective than adding server capacity within centralised data centres. Additionally, it allows businesses to only add the devices they need to meet their needs.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows, specifically in business, connectivity to 5G will become crucial. A side benefit of the expansion of edge computing is that many of these edge devices can be used as towers for the 5G network. This device expansion through edge computing helps provide additional scalability for businesses that use IoT devices as part of their digital infrastructure.
Businesses that rely solely on centralised data centres are at the mercy of outages and latency. Through edge computing, this can be avoided – but how?
Edge computing provides businesses with computing functionality even in the event of a failure at the centralised processing point. It removes a central point of failure – a failure of one edge device doesn’t impact other devices at the edge, ensuring business continuity.
Additionally, it is important to note, that connection to and from the edge is critical. Ensuring this connectivity will further enhance business resilience through edge computing architecture.
Before we explain how edge computing can increase business security, we must identify how data outside of edge computing infrastructures can be at risk.
Typically, data is sent back and forth to centralised processing points in data centres in cloud-based infrastructures. These data centres hold vast amounts of data and have a multitude of entry points that could be vulnerable to incursion from hackers.
The use of edge computing architecture could alleviate this security pinch point. First, processing data through edge computing means data isn’t sent to centralised data centres, and edge computing devices store minimal amounts of data and incomplete data sets. They offer fewer entry points for incursion, and even in the event of a hacker’s access, much less data would be affected.
It is important to note that businesses should take steps to ensure the security of their edge computing devices, even as they offer less of a security risk than traditional data centres.
Edge computing is an emerging technology set that could revolutionise digital business. As the world continues to adapt digitally, reliance on edge computing will grow. Adopting edge computing can:
- Reduce operating costs through efficient, cost-effective scalability
- Increase security by reducing access to business data
- Improve operating speeds and reduce latency
IntraLAN can help your business adopt emerging technology models. As experts in enterprise IT and technology and critical network provision, we can help ensure your business’s networks and systems are streamlined, dependable and secure. Contact our team today for more information.