What is edge computing and how can it transform your business?

By IBM Services

What is edge computing?

Edge computing, which is sometimes referred to as fog computing, is a distributed computing model and open information technology (IT) architecture. This paradigm drives computer data storage towards a location where it’s needed and enables mobile computing and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

Edge computing drives applications, data and computing power services away from centralized points and towards places that are closer to the user. This data is processed by a device or by a local computer or server instead of being transmitted to a data center.

The computation in edge computing is either largely or entirely performed on distributed device nodes. Edge computing focuses on any application that needs to be closer to the source of the action where distributed systems technology interacts with the physical world. Although it may interact with a centralized cloud, edge computing doesn’t need contact with a centralized cloud.

What are the benefits of edge computing?

Enterprises need to be aware of edge computing’s many benefits. This modern approach to network architecture has advantages that extend beyond delivering content and getting into the IoT market.

Speed

Data stream acceleration is enabled by edge computing, which includes real-time data processing without latency. This allows smart applications and devices to respond almost instantaneously as the data is being created. The massive reduction of lag time has expansive implications for technologies like self-driving cars and equally expansive benefits for business.

This reduced latency can be measured in microseconds instead of milliseconds. If an additional moment of downtime can cost a company thousands of dollars, then the speed advantages of edge computing can’t be overlooked.

Efficiency and security

Edge computing allows for efficient data processing, specifically for large amounts of data to be processed near the source. This process reduces internet bandwidth use and costs, and also helps optimize application efficiency from remote locations. Processing data without putting it into a public cloud offers an added layer of security for enterprises that handle sensitive data.

Networks that use edge computing lack a single weak point and are less vulnerable to cyberattacks because edge computing distributes their processing, storage and applications across a wide range of devices and data centers.

In the event of a cyberattack, the dispersed state of the architecture helps enterprises with enacting security protocols. Cybersecurity can seal off compromised portions of the network and isolate infected areas without having to shut down the entire network.

The dispersed state also reduces the amount of data at risk at any one time. Less data is vulnerable to interception because data is usually processed on local drives and then transferred back to a central data center. Even if a device is compromised, that device only contains the limited amount of data found on that local drive. The data security benefits of this dispersed date are obvious when compared with the caches of data traditionally exposed by a compromised server.

Scalability and versatility

Edge computing is a less expensive alternative to a dedicated data center that allows enterprises to grow their computing capability through the combination of IoT devices and edge data centers. Processing-capable edge computing devices also helps reduce growth costs, as adding more devices don’t greatly increase the network’s bandwidth demands.

This scalability bolsters the versatility of edge computing and helps enterprises aligning with local edge data centers focus on desirable markets without requiring costly infrastructure expansions. Enterprises can quickly shift to other markets when economic conditions change. 

Edge data centers allow enterprises to efficiently support their end users with little physical distance or latency. For content providers that deliver uninterrupted streaming services, this benefit has considerable valuable.  

Living on the edge

Machine learning is helping people discover new and exciting ways to use IoT and edge-based processing systems are grabbing the reins normally held by programmers. These systems manage troves of data, including how to speedily receive data, send and analyze data, and determine what data to keep or ignore. 

To meet the increasing demands of smarter devices, IoT edge computing needs to evolve and become more intelligent. In 2017, IBM collaborated with Unified Inbox to create an intelligent IoT messaging platform. This system used IBM Watson® to support natural language and conversational intelligence on Unified Inbox’s UnificationEngine®, a platform compatible with over 20 international messaging platforms and protocols. The practical applications for this system grow far beyond general online communication, stretching into optimizing transportation, events and emergency warning applications.

 

How IBM can help

IBM® Edge Delivery Services brings edge computing to your enterprise, and features a specialized cloud service that helps you create improved customer experiences and web performance, and greater security. 

For today’s enterprises, a superior customer experience begins with its web applications. Sluggish response time and downtime leads to a higher rate of abandonment, a reduction in customer satisfaction, and a loss of revenue and reduced brand loyalty. Here are several ways Edge Delivery Services can offer your business:

  • Helps transform the internet into an enterprise-class network that provides predictable performance and protection to web applications.
  • Helps business websites operate faster and more securely and enables a first line of defense at the device connection point. This first line of defense protects web delivery and reduces risks of outage, defacement and data theft to your business. 
  • Provides a predictable and high-quality end-user experience and a scalable network that avoids performance problems and downtime while also minimizing infrastructure cost and management complexity.
  • Drives web business agility and supports your business transformation with a consumption-based cloud service for web applications.

For more information about how Edge Delivery Service can transform your enterprise, schedule a consultation with an IBM representative at no cost.

 

Additional resources

Optimized Web Performance from Edge Delivery Services e-book

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The intelligent IoT edge: The next step in enterprise infrastructure blog post

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Online performance seriously impacts the bottom line white paper

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Redefining data centers at the edge blog post

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Learn about IBM Edge Computing

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What is edge computing?

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IBM Edge Computing in two minutes 

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