IBM 5G and edge computing


5G and edge computing are on the rise

The growing number of smart devices, the need for faster processing and the increased pressure on networks drive the edge computing market.

Edge computing, combined with 5G, creates opportunities to enhance digital experiences, improve performance, support data security and enable continuous operations in every industry. Edge computing brings computation and data storage closer to where data is created by people, places and things.

Gartner estimates that by 2025, 75 percent of data will be processed outside the traditional data center or cloud.1

Forward-looking companies want to unlock the potential of untapped data created by the growth of connected devices to seize new business opportunities, increase operational efficiency and improve customer experiences.

Edge computing can help address Industry 4.0 challenges and enable connected experiences.

Imagine that you’re a manufacturer and you’re trying to deal with the potential cost of outages in your production line—costs that might occur if any of your equipment goes down and stops the production process. Or imagine that you are an automobile manufacturer trying to engage your clients with a better driving experience. These industry examples can be enhanced and extended using edge computing.

A stylized image of cars and buses in motion

In the past, the promise of cloud and AI was to automate and speed innovation by deriving actionable insights from data. However, the scale and complexity of data created by connected devices may strain network and infrastructure capabilities.

IDC predicts that by 2023, half of the newly deployed on-premises infrastructure will be in critical edge locations rather than corporate data centers, up from less than 10% today.2

Edge computing benefits

Edge computing, combined with 5G, creates opportunities for new products, platforms and experiences in every industry

By leveraging the computational capacity of edge devices, gateways and networks, you can continue to take advantage of the principles of dynamic allocation of resources and continuous delivery that are inherent to cloud computing.

With edge computing, today’s businesses have the potential to virtualize the cloud beyond the four walls of the data center. Workloads created in the cloud, including some of the more modern forms of AI and analytics, can now be migrated out toward the edge. Where appropriate, data generated at the edge can be cleansed and optimized and brought back to the cloud.

Edge computing enables:

IBM has a view of edge computing that spans many industries and multiple tiers, and includes open technologies and standards like Docker and Kubernetes.

Edge computing drives opportunities for new products, platforms and experiences.

The edge computing platform from IBM spans private cloud and enterprise environments and network compute spaces as well as on-premises gateways, controllers and servers, and intelligent devices such as robots, connected vehicles or other products.

Centrally, hyper-scale public clouds, hybrid clouds, colocated managed data centers and traditional enterprise IT data centers will continue to serve as aggregation points for data, analytics and back-end data processing.

Public, private and content-delivery networks are transforming from simple pipes to higher-value hosting environments for applications—a form of edge network cloud.

Edge computing risks and responsibilities

Enterprises with edge environments must deal with the issues of massive scale, variability and rate of change

Edge computing breaks down the neat physical boundaries of the cloud data center—forcing us to think about issues such as security, scale, management, ownership and compliance. More importantly, it multiplies the scaling issues of cloud-based management techniques.

Edge networks increase the number of compute nodes by an order of magnitude. Edge gateways increase that by another order of magnitude and edge devices increase the number even more. If DevOps is critical to managing a hyper-scale cloud infrastructure, then zero-ops (that is, operations without any human intervention) is critical to managing the massive scale that edge computing represents.

At that scale, change is constant and explosive. Networks are being reconfigured to work around congestion on a continuous basis. Edge gateways are being updated with new features and processes. Edge devices are being moved around, changing ownership and being repurposed or reprioritized. This level of churn is practically business as usual. Moreover, intelligent equipment, or edge devices, are often shared, so a user cannot be expected to manage the compute available on them.

What’s involved in edge computing?

It must be possible to deploy, update, monitor and recover edge compute space without human intervention

Edge management processes must be fully automated, so enterprises can make decisions on their own about what work needs to be placed where, and recognize and recover from changing conditions without intervention.

The system must have a deep awareness of the nature, location and purpose of different devices with different capabilities and different uses—and be able to use that awareness to make informed, policy-driven decisions.

These are all issues that need to be considered and addressed to enable the other advantages of edge computing.

Terms and trends:

Need a primer? Watch the video, What is edge computing? (10:39)

Extend cloud computing to the edge

Act on insights closer to where data is created

Edge and telco network cloud solutions from IBM run on Red Hat® OpenShift®, the leading open hybrid multicloud platform that runs anywhere—from any data center to multiple clouds to the edge.

With IBM you can:

In addition, IBM offers extensive industry expertise and a robust ecosystem of telco operators, networking and IT providers—including equipment manufacturers, independent software vendors and systems integrators.

The convergence of 5G and edge computing will drive business in every industry and change how work gets done and how businesses operate. The adoption of an open hybrid multicloud architecture will help ensure you can deliver new connected experiences with data regardless of whether it’s running in a centralized on-premises, public or private cloud data center to the network core out to the edge. IBM, our IBM Business Partners and Red Hat can help you deliver platform and edge-enabled solutions.

1 “What Edge Computing Means for Infrastructure and Operations Leaders,” Rob van der Meulen, Gartner Research, October 2018 (link resides outside IBM)

2 IDC White Paper, sponsored by IBM, “The Importance of Effective Operations in Unlocking Edge IT Value,” January 2020