One of the most impactful developments in IT infrastructure is likely to be the widespread adoption of edge computing. It is estimated that by 2022 there will be 55 billion edge devices on the market, and the number might double by 2025. Many businesses are under increased pressure to adopt the edge model due to the growing amount of data in their clouds and the adoption of AI and 5G, which bring extremely data-intensive workflows. Here are three requisites organizations should meet to enter the edge computing universe without a hitch.
Edge computing relies on the ability each node has to reliably interact with every other node. These could be computers, storage nodes, sensors or machinery that collect or elaborate the network’s data. Geographic separation of the different nodes has led towards a diversity in equipment. This can be due to supplier availability or local characteristics. An efficient edge infrastructure must therefore accommodate a variety of technologies.
The marketplace pressures to accommodate this is often inevitable for many larger operators of edge networks. But in order to make a diverse and disparate edge network viable, organisations need to adopt open-source technologies. Creating standards around open-source software and hardware is ultimately the only way to guarantee that every component in a diverse and distributed edge network can interact with its counterparts.
A sufficiently scaled network is going to be a fusion of different workloads operating together. Edge infrastructure can be expected to run virtual machines, containers, and bare-metal nodes running network functions. As particularly data-intensive workloads such as AI demand microservice architectures, edge computing needs to be able to reconcile such complex tasks with more traditional and routine workloads.
This is where the hybrid cloud becomes essential. A hybrid cloud deployment creates a common foundation for an edge system, which allows teams to manage thousands of networked devices just as they would a centralised server.
Attention to scale
One of the main strengths of edge computing is its ability to scale. And adopting open standards and hybrid cloud infrastructure is integral to enabling edge to scale. Organisations also need to ensure that their edge infrastructure is created with the intent of scaling.
Architectures and resources should be structured and planned to accommodate new technologies, and that organisations should be prepared to recognise, address and mitigate the inevitable challenges of scaling up. Where this approach is particularly important is security planning: planning out the structure of your permissions system ahead of time is always going to be far easier than having to replace an ad-hoc structure that is not fit for purpose.
If organisations focus on these three aspects the edge computing future can deliver on its promises of technological progress and great performance and societal benefits.