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ZEDEDA 2022 Predictions: Trends to Watch for Edge Computing

vmblog predictions 2022 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2022.  Read them in this 14th annual series exclusive.

2022 Trends to Watch for Edge Computing

By Jason Shepherd, VP of Ecosystem, ZEDEDA

Every new technology trend moves faster than the one before it. People began flocking to the Web in the early 1990s as the internet became more pervasive. For the past 20 years, cloud computing has seen an enormous rise, driven by web-based applications and mobile computing. The edge now represents the latest shift in the computing paradigm, as analysts estimate that spending on edge computing hardware, software and services will reach $240.6 billion in the coming years.

As we look ahead to 2022, here are some emerging edge computing trends that indicate how innovative companies are planning for this next wave of technology.

Planning for the Future

  1. IT vendors launching their edge initiatives. In 2021 we've seen every major IT infrastructure vendor announce new edge computing initiatives. The coming year will bring more detail as they move toward launching new offerings and building out their go-to-market strategies. A key driver for this is that the cloud scalers are increasingly specifying and purchasing their own hardware directly from low-cost ODMs. So, if the clouds win with their edge strategies (e.g., Azure Edge, AWS Outposts, Google Anthos), the traditional IT infrastructure OEMs lose control of the conversation. This has relegated the edge to be the new battlefield for customer focus. Meanwhile, all players will increasingly realize that the edge is a continuum and requires different toolsets for orchestration and application development, despite similar principles. This is compared to the "edge washing" that has been common the past several years.

  2. Edge computing projects moving from lab to production. As organizations compete for cost efficiencies, security improvements and agility, expect to see a flurry of announcements of projects that incorporate edge computing in a variety of use cases and verticals.

  3. The first edge computing startup unicorn. We've seen a record number of new unicorns born in 2021 (see chart). But this has not yet hit edge computing. Expect to see the first edge computing startup become a unicorn in 2022, with many other startup financings to come.


Breakthrough Innovations 

  1. More IoT and Edge computing solutions that bridge the physical and digital worlds and make it easier for workers to collaborate remotely. Examples include tools such as digital whiteboards and the use of AR/VR to better replicate the experience of face-to-face interaction and remote monitoring and management of industrial infrastructure to minimize the need for on-site visits.

  2. "SaaSification" of business models that bring the simplicity of the cloud to edge computing use cases. This includes not only resources dedicated to specific end users but also multi-tenant edge infrastructure that multiple end-users share, as is currently the case for public cloud resources.

  3. Increased standardization and no-code tooling for developing AI models, including those developed at the edge. TinyML will continue to accelerate, further underscoring that the edge is a continuum spanning highly constrained devices in the physical world to regional data centers. Meanwhile, the reality will set in that many solutions that providers market as AI today are really just rules engines. Scaling edge AI will require vertical domain experts to have access to simple, standardized tools.

  4. Collaboration on the concept of trust fabrics that deliver data across heterogeneous networks will continue to grow. Data trust is critical to driving new business models and customer experiences, in addition to helping businesses comply with privacy regulations and protect themselves and consumers from fake data automated by AI. An example effort here is the Linux Foundation's new Project Alvarium.

Investment Opportunities

Investors are focused on high-growth areas, and as edge computing breaks out, investments will be made everywhere in the edge ecosystem. As edge nodes are often highly distributed and installed in difficult-to-access locations, we are seeing significant investment in orchestration, virtualization and security and strategies built on an open core model are especially attractive. 

Additionally, expect to see investments in vertically-integrated, purpose-built edge solutions, such as remote condition monitoring, preventative maintenance, network virtualization, content delivery networks, artificial intelligence and computer vision. Customers will increasingly look for these solutions to be delivered as a managed service.


I expect an increasing amount of regulation to drive a need for taking the appropriate measures at the edge to protect consumer privacy, starting as close to the data source as possible. An example includes stripping Personally Identifiable Information (PII) prior to data being backhauled to cloud resources for further processing.

Regulatory requirements and macro trends in specific industries will also increasingly drive a need to collaborate on edge solutions. For example, the energy space is faced with the challenges of aging utility grids, unpredictable renewable energy sources, consumer power generation and storage (e.g., home solar and batteries), electrification of the auto industry, renewable energy, and so forth.  Dealing with these challenges will require innovation at the edge to connect the various stakeholders in the ecosystem spanning producers to consumers.

Lingering Effects of the Pandemic

Organizations are seemingly regaining market confidence, and projects are moving forward more quickly than we observed in 2020. This trend is expected to continue, if not accelerate, in 2022, with more edge nodes being deployed and new edge projects beginning. These investments are being driven by a need to remotely manage operations in the physical world and increase overall resilience to prepare for future events.

The one headwind for the industry is that the ongoing silicon shortage is still impacting hardware delivery. Distributed edge computing projects typically require new hardware, which currently can have a  lead time over 52 weeks, pushing full-scale deployments out at least another year. We expect large-scale deployments to accelerate as the supply chain is restored. Meanwhile, we will see a wide variety of innovative solutions in PoCs and smaller-scale projects.

Digital Transformation

Edge computing is a foundational enabler for digital transformation. Around the world, organizations are modernizing their OT and  IT infrastructure, connecting previously unconnected devices and systems and simplifying how they deploy, manage and secure a mix of both legacy and new software investments. Edge computing enables these new architectures with flexibility, agility, and security.

Future of Work

We believe the remote worker trend is here to stay even as some companies bring employees back to the office. We will also see continued growth in collaboration between different business stakeholders (e.g., OT, IT, LoB) when it comes to digital transformation projects. One of the big lessons from the pandemic has been to build resilience into your operations, and this requires collaboration.


While the last 20 years have been about bringing data to centralized compute, the future is all about bringing compute to the data. Predictions are notoriously difficult, but watching where compute and data are moving and the investments that follow can give a good indication of what to expect in 2022 and beyond.



Jason Shepherd 

Jason Shepherd is VP of Ecosystem at edge orchestration company ZEDEDA. Prior to joining ZEDEDA, Jason was CTO for the Dell Technologies Edge and IoT Solutions Division. His proven track record as a thought leader in the market is evidenced through his leadership building up the award-winning Dell IoT Solutions Partner Program, establishing the open source EdgeX Foundry project to facilitate greater IoT interoperability, and leading the incubation of Project Alvarium to foster data trust at scale. Jason is the governing board chair of the Linux Foundation's LF Edge organization. He speaks and writes regularly on technology topics such as edge computing, IoT, AI, 5G, Digital Twin and Ecosystem and was recognized as one of the Top 100 Industrial IoT influencers in both 2018 and 2019. He holds a total of 40 granted and pending US patents.
Published Wednesday, December 22, 2021 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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