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What Is the Distributed Edge?


Cloud computing has come to define the modern tech era. Everything from enterprise data analysis to gaming runs on the cloud, but traditional offerings may not be sufficient for long. As digitization continues to ramp up, the need for the distributed edge grows.

Edge computing isn't an alternative to the cloud but rather an extension of it. The shift to the edge has already started, and it could revolutionize cloud computing. Here's a closer look.

How the Edge Differs From the Traditional Cloud

While traditional cloud computing relies on centralized data centers, the distributed edge moves computation closer to network endpoints. With clouds handling 82% of enterprise workloads, bandwidth, latency and security are becoming increasingly pressing issues. Bringing these processes to the edge provides a solution.

In the distributed edge, computational power is decentralized, happening on a network of endpoints and smaller, local data centers. Since information doesn't have to travel as far, it improves both bandwidth and latency. The distribution of data processing also lessens the risk of a centralized failure impacting the whole network.

Edge computing may seem like a distant future, but it's already here. The first open orchestration solution for the distributed edge launched in early 2021. It may not be long before the edge supplants the traditional cloud as many industries' standard.

How the Distributed Edge Can Benefit Industries

The health care industry is ripe for the disruption of the distributed edge. Today, virtually every aspect of health care is digitized. The growing number of data analysts in the industry play a major role in improving the quality of care, but the sector has remarkably high security and latency needs. With the edge, doctors can process and access vital patient data far faster, enabling quicker treatments while decreasing the risk of a breach-causing disruption.

The automotive industry is another sector that can benefit from edge computing, specifically in the area of self-driving cars. The risk of lag is too high in traditional cloud computing for it to support autonomous vehicles. These machines need to make accurate, split-second decisions to avoid accidents, so they require the edge's speed and latency.

As telecom companies start to roll out 5G networks, they may turn to the edge for support. Some of 5G's promised use cases need latencies of less than 10 milliseconds, which these networks can't provide independently. They'll need the right infrastructure to support these extremes. They'll need the distributed edge.

Potential Downsides of Edge Computing

Edge computing is still a relatively new concept and needs some improvement before it reaches its full potential. IoT devices are still notoriously hard to secure, even with the progress of the edge. Since edge computing relies on these connected devices for some computational work, IoT security will have to be strengthened before it becomes widespread.

Implementing a system that uses such a wide variety of devices will also take time. Wireless communication may need to be more standardized for distributed computing to be more viable. Building and securing new local data centers will also take a lot of time and money.

The Future of Cloud Computing Is Here

Despite its current limitations, the distributed edge is already starting to roll out. As more companies realize its benefits, more will push for its development and implementation. Before long, edge computing could support some of the most critical applications in many industries.

Traditional clouds are still sufficient for many use cases. In those that need improvement, though, the distributed edge will unlock a world of possibilities.


About the Author

Shannon Flynn 

Shannon Flynn is a tech writer who covers topics like cloud computing, business technology, and data. You can find her work on Hackernoon, Cybint Solutions, Irish Tech News, and Visit ReHack for other trending tech topics covered by Shannon. 
Published Thursday, February 25, 2021 7:38 AM by David Marshall
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