According to the IMARC research company, the global edge computing market produced robust growth during 2015-2020. So, what’s driving this growth and where is it taking organizations in their IT strategies?
What is edge computing?
Edge computing is not a new phenomenon, but more organizations are exploring the concept because of how it can solve network computing challenges that are themselves growing. The key here is how edge computing reduces the number of processes running on the cloud by moving them to local devices. These can be a user’s computer, an IoT device, or an edge server.
By switching down the volume of long-distance communication flows between the client and the cloud server, there is a noticeable reduction in latency or congestion and an improvement in process efficiency. This translates into some significant business outcomes such as lowering bandwidth use, associated costs, and server resources. At the same time, edge computing is created the space for doing more real-time data analysis on edge devices that have application in terms of AI, automation, and machine learning.
The bigger picture – why is edge computing is growing?
Over the same period of edge computing becoming more known, companies across all markets have been undergoing programs of digital transformation that also have been focused on process efficiency among other things. This is where edge computing is playing a crucial role because it is a significant enabling force as it breaks down data center walls and pushes cloud capabilities outwards to the edge. In this respect, edge needs to be treated as part of the hybrid cloud infrastructure.
There are some other factors that are making edge computing more mainstream. After GDPR came into action in 2018, data sovereignty and security measures also became major focus points. Managed edge services assist companies in maintaining regulatory compliance while pursuing better customer experiences. Edge computing can be used in a number of different industries to ensure GDPR compliance as personal data will be processed locally.
The momentum for edge computing is not slowing down. IMARC forecasts the global edge computing market will grow at a CAGR of 30 percent from now until 2026. There are several factors for this.
Impact of Covid-19
One is of course how the pandemic has shaken up the world of work so that increasingly more people are working from home and more students are learning remotely. According to research from the ONS, 85 percent of homeworkers would like to continue to use a hybrid working pattern going forward.
In effect, this means edge computing aligns with how workers will be working from home or remote offices and switching between these and central offices too. The role for edge computing here is how it provides the intelligence and always-on security to manage how help companies seamlessly transition from traditional workplaces to a more mixed and fluid arrangement of work between office and remote office settings.
Leveraging edge computing capabilities
Edge can be deployed on-premises, privately and is extremely scalable at a low cost, which makes it suitable for adoption at production plants and healthcare facilities. Within the healthcare sector, edge computing allows patient data to be close to the source by restricting the movement of data, and so reducing privacy breaches. This can also be personalized, where only specific pieces of data can be shared with third parties, and each device is able to have device-specific security protocols. Therefore, further protecting private patient data. Moreover, security breaches of edge computing devices can be centralized and isolated, meaning the entire network will not be threatened.
Equally, there is huge potential for the technology to be further leveraged in augmented reality and virtual reality applications, industrial automation, and telecommunications. Using edge computing in those ways could enhance user experience by limited lag times, leading to faster responses.
IoT, cloud computing and 5G
There is an increasing number of use cases where edge computing is critical because of its requirements for low-latency processing. And don’t forget, edge computing was developed thanks to the exponential growth of IoT devices, which generate enormous amounts of data during the course of their operations. There is a positive correlation between the IoT and edge computing markets. According to research from McKinsey, companies will continue to invest in IoT technology, and these investments are proposed to grow at 13.6 percent per year until 2022. As such, with the continuing growth in IoT investments, it is predicted that investments in edge computing will also continue to rise.
Edge computing has particularly grown over the last year as it provides the ability to optimize and extend the capability of cloud computing by bringing computation and data storage closer to the devices where it’s being gathered. As such, this allows for greater speed, latency, and security for the end-user. This is more secure for both the business and their customers; it gives them the reassurance of business continuity - a key technology to futureproof the new workplace environment.
5G and IoT adoption will continue to expand, which means an influx of data needing to be processed in centralized cloud computing and storage solutions. Normally, businesses would struggle with latency, bandwidth, and security issues. However, cloud adoption becomes a viable option thanks to edge computing. This brings computation and data storage closer to the IoT device, rather than relying on a central location that can be thousands of miles away. In this way, data will become more secure and not suffer from network latency concerns that can affect an application’s performance. As such, edge computing can optimize IoT applications, in particular ones that require real-time actions. The convergence of 5G, IoT and edge computing creates fast networks with heightened security. As the pandemic will continue to have an impact, there will always be a need for innovation and digitization.
Furthermore, companies can become more time- and cost-efficient by having the processing done locally, which minimizes the amount of data that needs to be handled in a centralized or cloud-based location. Thereby, this will lower operational costs for businesses as edge computing devices can usually be implemented at a lower cost and decrease the amount of storage needed. Also, with data being closer to the end-user, this can improve efficiency.
Edge computing is here to say and will continue to evolve. As organizations review their options, channel partners can play a pivotal role in providing and supporting solutions that aggregate the endpoint devices, software and cloud resources needed to maximize the benefits of greater adoption of edge computing.
Stephen Nolan, Senior Vice President, Tech Data EMEA