Is Edge the Future of Cloud Computing?

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May 30, 2019

Edge computing is coming and it’s poised to change the IT landscape in much the same way cloud disrupted on-premises models a decade ago.

Earlier this year, Hewlett Packard announced they’re investing $4 billion over four years in edge computing. Amazon and Sequoia just invested more than $530 million in autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora. Major telecom carriers have already begun to rollout 5G networks. And MarketsandMarkets research predicts the edge computing market “will be worth $6.72 billion by 2022.”

Edge computing, for the uninitiated, is a localized system of data centers that process information as close to the source as possible so data can be acted upon faster. Think of sensors within motors, drilling rigs, pumps, generators, surveillance cameras, cars. Think about all of the mini-processors in wearable and home devices. All of these things are constantly monitoring, constantly gathering data, yet none of it is critical enough to warrant transfer to a data center hub. It’s meant to be gathered and processed quickly, but not necessarily stored for future use.

Why all the attention on edge now? The Internet of things (IoT), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), self-driving cars, and 5G, that’s why. We’re connecting more devices than ever — 20 billion connected devices by 2020, says Gartner — and the current infrastructure won’t be able to manage. Hyperscale companies are already struggling to manage the amount of data that’s flooding in today.

Edge computing will have a significant influence in areas that gather large amounts of data. Like cloud, it will eventually become the default for nearly everything that needs to process data quickly. Driven by 5G networks and a deluge of autonomous vehicles, Edge will become an added layer, an evolution of cloud, that opens up new advantages and opportunities as we connect more pieces of our lives through devices.

Gartner’s Tom Bittman notes the benefits edge computing brings: “...Technologies for the edge will be completely different, much more dynamic, much more evolutionary and competitive. Cloud providers are trying to reach out now and subsume control of the edge before the edge takes off.”

To learn more about edge computing and its potential impacts on the cloud, IT infrastructure, and the growing need for custom network and server racks, read our latest whitepaper, Pushing Boundaries: Edge Computing Could Change The Cloud.

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