Why edge computing should be on your radar in 2019

Artificial intelligence is moving to the edge of the network alongside the Internet of Things. If you don’t already have an edge computing strategy, this is the year to get on board.

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Is edge the new cloud? Certainly, edge has been hyped over the past year, but it’s really an evolution of the cloud-computing ecosystem.

It’s a necessary evolution — and not just for the Internet of Things. Indeed, James Staten, VP and principal analyst with Forrester Research, writes that “its value is much wider and will prove as critical to driving up customer experience as content delivery networks (CDN) were in the early days of the web.”

According to Staten: “Every company needs edge computing on its technology road map starting in 2019.”

Major cloud vendors are already offering edge compute and AI services. And in Forrester’s 2018 Global Business Technographics Mobility Survey, 27 per cent of global telecom decision-makers said their firms are either implementing or expanding edge computing this year.

As Staten points out, it’s not just about IoT — though aggregating and analyzing sensor data in real time is clearly a major driver across vertical markets, from manufacturing and healthcare to smart cities. But it’s also critical for AI.

AI at the edge

“AI often is dependent on the cloud, allowing it to be backed by massive computing power,” writes Frank Cittadino in an article for Forbes. “That trend is shifting to host AI at the edge, giving it capabilities to learn and deliver a highly effective result in real time. That is because the data doesn’t have to travel to the data center to be processed and risk latency or packet loss, degrading the performance of the AI platform itself.”

While this may not matter for all edge devices — such as a smart fridge that lets you know when you’re out of milk — it will be critical for those that require at-the-edge intelligence, such as self-driving vehicles and medical devices.

Emerging cloud-to-edge solutions

That’s why we’re seeing the emergence of a number of performance benchmarking frameworks for edge-AI. “In 2019, we expect that demand for cloud-centric interoperability among AI-infused mobile, embedded, IoT, and robotics products will spur vendors to incorporate these emerging frameworks into useful cloud-to-edge solutions,” writes Tom Curtin in an article for TechTarget.

Curtin also expects we’ll see vendors offer more edge appliances, designed for latency-sensitive cloud applications — everything from real-time full-motion video processing to local AI inferencing. And edge management tools will be made available in cloud management suites to “monitor, manage, secure, and control it all in real-time within their broader multicloud environments.”

Do you need an edge strategy?

‘Edge’ might be the latest buzzword, but it’s an essential evolution of cloud computing. Indeed, market research firm Million Insights predicts the global edge computing market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 41 per cent through 2025.

And it says “higher consummation of data services is likely to spur edge computing industry expansion with [an] increase in the adoption of edge computing as a service.”

While IDC Canada predicts mainstream edge computing won’t truly take off until 2021, this year 10 per cent of Canadian enterprises plan to pilot new architectures — and 2019 will become “the year of evangelism of edge computing.”

It’s early days, but edge computing will open up new opportunities, from IoT to AI and beyond. If you haven’t yet adopted an edge strategy, it might be time to consider where the edge can take you.

Image: 4X-image/iStock

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