Rob High is an IBM Fellow, and VP & CTO of IBM Edge Computing. He spoke to Industrious about what Edge Computing means today—and what it will means for industries tomorrow.

How do you define Edge Computing? Why should enterprise businesses pay attention to it?

Edge Computing is about placing work close to where data is being created and where actions are being taken. In other words, AI and analytics with lower latency, more efficient use of network bandwidth, better user experiences, higher protection of personal information, and enabling the continuity of business even in the presence of network outages.

All this enables businesses to innovate, lower operating costs and improve employee and customer engagement.

What’s the future of Edge Computing, and what’s IBM’s pivotal role in it?

There are a few problems that need to be solved to gain the benefits of Edge Computing.

We estimate there are 15 billion Edge devices currently in market—that will grow to 55 billion by 2022. Experts estimate that number will further grow to 150 billion devices by 2025.

5G will help fuel this growth, and Moore’s law of low-end chips is enabling it. Most importantly, we don’t know where the saturation point is for Edge Computing.

These are all core traits of IBM’s hybrid cloud and multicloud management heritage. We are leveraging openness and transparency.

The very same tradition of delivering and leveraging open source technology that led to the Red Hat acquisition is at the heart of our IBM Edge Computing offering, based on the Open Horizon open source project. We are working with a wide range of solution providers, hardware manufacturers, and systems integrators to build an ecosystem that gives our clients choice and enables us to build a strong value chain across our industry—while supporting enterprise needs.

What’s the relationship between Edge Computing and IoT? Edge and AI?

Edge Computing builds on the IoT tradition of connecting devices. However, as IoT devices have matured, expanding their functionality, it is now possible to transition from connecting and collecting sensor data, sending it all back to the cloud and trying to make sense of it all there.

Edge Computing makes it possible to do IoT more effectively, more efficiently, and to unlock innovations that were previously not possible.

With Edge Computing, analytics and AI are placed directly on the device, local servers or in the network, moving the work to the data rather than sending the data back up to the cloud.

Besides telcos, which industries will be disrupted by Edge?

Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Media, Retail, Travel and Transportation, Banking.

In essence, every industry will benefit from the transformative effects of Edge Computing, whether that’s optimizing the performance of the production line; predicting the potential for equipment to fail before it creates a disruption to your operations; recognizing quality issues in real time; recognizing spillage or spoilage on the retail floor; protecting against theft and vandalism in the ATM vestibule; improving your driving experience and increasing road safety.

Any ethical concerns around the advent of Edge Computing?

A common concern is protecting our private and personal data. Edge Computing helps protect that information by avoiding the need to move that information.

With Edge Computing, we can move the work to our own device so as to reap the benefits emerging products are able to offer without our data ever leaving that device. Our personal information never leaves our possession; it is never sent back to the data center where it becomes a bigger target for others to attack.


More from Telecommunications

5G network rollout using DevOps: Myth or reality?

4 min read - The deployment of Telecommunication Network Functions had always been a largely manual process until the advent of 5th Generation Technology (5G). 5G requires that network functions be moved from a monolithic architecture toward modularized and containerized patterns. This opened up the possibility of introducing DevOps-based deployment principles (which are well-established and adopted in the IT world) to the network domain. Even after the containerization of 5G network functions, they are still quite different from traditional IT applications because of strict…

How AI and chatbots helped telcoms strengthen their connections during COVID-19

4 min read - Calling customer service can be one of the more tedious experiences in life. But when a global pandemic has you stuck working from home for the foreseeable future and the WiFi cuts out, there’s little choice but to get on the line—and too often in line, for hours—with your provider. For telecommunications service providers, the challenges are often even greater. The last thing they want is frustrated customers stuck on hold, yet suddenly there were millions of them. Customers became…

The COVID-19 pandemic has supercharged AI for telcos

3 min read - While IBM was initially concerned the COVID-19 pandemic would bring operations to a screeching halt, we’ve observed quite the opposite for telcos. Last year was a turning point for AI in the telco industry, which was faced with increasing bandwidth demands due to the influx of people staying home. Calls to customer service centers skyrocketed along with demand for more intelligent ways to predict customer and infrastructure needs. The situation urgently called for AI. Growing beyond just a shorthand way…

The cutting edge of edge: IBM researcher Wendy Chong brings 5G to life

6 min read - Ask the average technologist about the history of wireless technology, and you might hear a highly technical discussion of uptime, downtime and meantime to failure, of multiplexing, virtualization and slicing. Ask Wendy Chong, who has spent more than a quarter century in technology design and research at IBM, and you are likely to get a lively conversation on the life-changing nature of mobile networks from a human’s perspective. As Chong explains it: 1G gave us the ability to talk on…